Columbia River System Operations

Albeni Falls Dam and Lake Pend Oreille

Albeni Falls dam and Lake Pend Oreille

Albeni Falls Dam, Lake Pend Oreille, and associated facilities are operated for Flood Risk Management, Hydropower, Recreation, Fish & Wildlife, and Water Quality.

Albeni Falls Dam was authorized by Congress in the 1950 Flood Control Act, and construction was completed in 1955. The dam is located at the site of natural waterfalls that impounded Lake Pend Oreille. On completion, the 90-foot-tall dam increased the storage of Lake Pend Oreille and reduced upstream and downstream flood risks. The dam is made up of a powerhouse with three generating turbine units and a spillway.


Quick Facts

  • Stream: Pend Oreille River (RM90.1)
  • Location: Bonner Country, Idaho
  • Owner: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
  • Authorized Purposes: Flood Control, Hydropower (1950 Flood Control Act)
  • Other Purposes: Recreation, Fish & Wildlife, Water Quality
  • Type of Project: Storage
  • Authorized Flood Storage: 600,000 acre-feet
Dam
  • Albeni Falls
  • Completed: 1955
  • Height: 90 feet
  • Length: 1,080 feet
  • Features: powerhouse, spillway, log chute (currently inactive)
  • Forebay Elevation Normal Operating Range: 2,051-2,062 feet msl
  • Spillway Capacity (at full pool): 106,000 cfs
Powerhouse
  • Generation Capacity: 42 MW, 3 Units
  • Hydraulic Capacity: 33,000 cfs

Hydropower

Albeni Falls Dam has three turbine units and a total generating capacity of 42 megawatts–enough to power roughly 15,000 homes.

Flood Risk Management

Prior to construction of the dam, flow was restricted through the natural waterfalls, which caused flooding upstream along Lake Pend Oreille during years of high spring runoff. The construction of the dam expanded the channel and increased capacity to pass water downstream through the spillway, reducing upstream flood risk.

Water Quality

Water quality is monitored and managed consistent with Clean Water Act and state standards for the health of aquatic species.

Recreation

Recreational opportunities are abundant at scenic Lake Pend Oreille, including camping, fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, and more. Operation of Albeni Falls Dam benefits recreation at Lake Pend Oreille by maintaining a steady lake level during the summer months at the peak of recreation on the lake.

Fish & Wildlife

Albeni Falls Dam does not have fish passage facilities; however, the project is operated in a manner to mitigate for losses to the kokanee population that have occurred since the dam was constructed. Kokanee are an important food source for bull trout–a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act–and measures to protect the kokanee in Lake Pend Oreille may also serve the recovery efforts for bull trout.
Other fish species found in Lake Pend Oreille include Kamloops trout, whitefish, cutthroat and brown trout, mackinaw or lake trout, large and smallmouth bass, crappie, pumpkinseed sunfish, northern pike, walleye, perch, bullhead catfish, and others.

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