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Runoff Report 1999.....Data Stations

This page will take a closer look at the data stations in this area used for this report. Data stations are usually automatic gauges connected to a special telephone line. A computer program in the office is dialing into those gauges. A transmitter immediately sends the present measured water level directly to the computer. This happens automatically every 15 minutes.

Using charts or special software those data will be converted into stream flow data indicating the mean water flow in cubic meters per second. The formula is rather simple by including such constants like stream width, shape and area, bottom slope, and roughness (Manning's coefficient) into the open channel flow calculations. Finally, all 96 data values throughout the day are used to calculate the daily mean water level and flow rate, which is the basis for this report.

One of the disadvantages using the daily mean data is the fact that it does not allow to filter out the peak values for the gauge. Most importantly, it prevents any observations regarding the daily flow pattern throughout the day. This could have been used to draw important conclusions about the dependency between air temperature and stream flow as well as the time delay for the water flow from the source to the location of the gauge.

I was not able to get all the data I felt are important for this research. This fact of course decreases the value of the research and degrades any conclusions to some form of general trends. The main problem seems to be the lack of resources for doing something with the vast amount of data going into the system. A huge amount of data is collected in this area but nobody really bather to do something with it to increase public safety. It's even often protected like a secret department treasure and just the hint towards those data seems to activate some form of defense mechanism. But there is also the simple solution by just buying the data. Maybe $5000.00 per month probably would have been enough to get all data needed for this research. But I can think of many other more enjoyable ways to drive myself into personal bankruptcy. I don't need to further explain the grade of my disappointment here. So I simply quit continuing this research.

But now back to the topic of this section. Table 1 shows the gauges in this area accessed for this research. All stream gauges are maintained by Environment Canada (Water Survey). Own measurements are taken manually twice a day for the Shuswap Lake near Sicamous.

Table 1: Data Stations
Stream / Lake Location Maintained by
Shuswap River Enderby Environment Canada
Eagle River Malakwa Environment Canada
Salmon River Salmon Arm Environment Canada
Seymour River Seymour Arm Environment Canada
Adams River (Adams Lake) Squilax Environment Canada
Chase Creek near Chase Environment Canada
South Thompson River near Chase Environment Canada
Shuswap Lake Salmon Arm (Canoe) District of Salmon Arm
Shuswap River / Sugar Lake Sugar Lake Reservoir BC Hydro
Mara Lake (Shuswap Lake) near Sicamous Flood Research Project

The Shuswap River is the main water contributor for the Shuswap Lake. As I will show later in this report, during the main runoff almost half of the water reaching the Shuswap Lake is coming from the Shuswap River. This fact made it necessary to take a closer look at the Shuswap River by dividing it into stream sections between the available gauge stations. Table 2 is listing those stations between Sugar Lake and Shuswap Lake.

Table 2: Shuswap River Data Stations
Station Location Maintained by
Shuswap River Sugar Lake Inflow BC Hydro
Sugar Lake Sugar Lake (Lake Level) BC Hydro
Shuswap River Sugar Lake Outflow Environment Canada
Shuswap River Wilsey Dam Environment Canada
Bessette Creek above Beaverjack Creek Environment Canada
Shuswap River Enderby Environment Canada

Table 3 gives the first overview of the accumulated water flow into the Shuswap Lake. Flow data from the gauges are converted into the total daily water flow, as it will be used for all following calculations. Table 3 is adding all data to show the total amount of water transported to the Shuswap Lake for the time period of January 01 to October 31, 1999.

Some data is missing because of malfunction of the gauges. The gaps are filled with calculated estimates. The total inflow only reflects the water passing the stations as outlined above. There is no data available for all the minor streams and creeks leading directly into the Shuswap Lake. The relatively small amount of water coming from those sources allows to simple ignore this minor contribution. All those creeks peak very early in the runoff and are back to normal long before the main runoff is starting.

Table 3 already shows one important and interesting fact. More water is drained from the lake as brought into it. It points directly towards one of the reasons why the 1999 runoff didn't cause more damage. I will analyze this effect later on in this report.

Table 3: Shuswap Lake: Main Streams Total Water Inflow / Outflow (01/01/99 to 31/10/99)
Stream Inflow (m) Outflow (m) Comment
Shuswap River 3,558,600,000.00   14 estimates in July
Eagle River 1,651,970,592.00  
Salmon River 209,451,744.00 Until 13/09/99
Seymour River 1,608,396,480.00  
Adams River (Adams Lake) 2,956,633,920.00
Chase Creek 63,436,608.00 20 days missing in March
South Thompson River   12,822,874,560.00  
Totals 10,048,489,344.00 12,822,874,560.00

Table 4 looks at some section data for the Shuswap River. It allows a good overview where the water is coming from. Later in the report it also builds the basis for the analysis about the water contribution relative to the runoff timetable. Again, the Sugar Lake inflow is larger than the outflow.

Table 4: Shuswap River: Total Water Flow (01/01/99 to 31/10/99)
Shuswap River m Comment
Sugar Lake Inflow 1,480,844,160 Calculated by BC Hydro
Sugar Lake Storage 51,960,960  
Sugar Lake Outflow 1,428,883,200 Regulated by BC Hydro
Inflow between Sugar Lake and Wilsey Dam 476,919,360  
Inflow from Bessette Creek 119,798,265 Until 05/10/99
Inflow between Wilsey Dam and Enderby 1,532,999,175 except Bessette Creek
Total 3,558,600,000  

Table 5 gives an overview for the Shuswap Lake water levels and its peak values. The lake started to rise on March 22, 1999. The 1999-runoff shows 2 major peaks, which were directly caused by the continuously changing weather pattern in this area. The lake gained a height of 4.317 m in 1999, which is in fact more than during the flood year of 1997.

It took 115 days for the lake to reach its final peak. This research evaluates the data until the end of October only. The lake drainage continued far into the November before leveling out. The end date is not yet exactly known at this point.

Table 5: Shuswap Lake Water Levels
  Start 1st Peak 2nd Peak
Date 22/03/99 29/06/99, 09:00AM 15/07/99, 08:00PM
Days 0 99 115
Level 344.91 m 349.199 m 349.227 m
Level Increase   + 4.289 m + 4.317 m

Finally, the last table gives some indication about how fast the lake is able to rise and fall, based on the 1999 level data. By looking at the size of the lake (about 1000 km circumference) this gives a clear indication about the huge amount of water going into the lake, making it rise in a rate of max. 0.7 cm per hour.

Table 6: Shuswap Lake Peak Data Analysis
Maximum Level Increase +16 cm per day
on 26.5.99
+0.7 cm
per hour
+1 cm
every 1.5 hours
Maximum Level Decrease -7.2 cm per day
on 2.8.99
-0.3 cm
per hour
-1 cm
every 3.3 hours

The next page gives a short description about the snow condition for the 1999 runoff.

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Copyright (C) 2003 Bernhard Kramer, Sicamous, BC - Canada