Low water levels on Columbia possible

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Water levels on the Columbia River could drop significantly by next week, and remain low for several weeks after that, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The water level will likely drop downstream of Bonneville Dam to Longview. The Corps, which operates the dam and other hydroelectric facilities on the Columbia, will shut off flows that spill water over Bonneville Dam and benefit fish on Aug. 31. Grand Coulee Dam, farther up the river in Eastern Washington, will also begin storing water for winter power generation and other purposes, according to the Corps.

As a result of those changes, water levels below Bonneville Dam could drop by as much as four feet by Labor Day, the agency said. The river could remain low through September and part of October, depending on rainfall in the coming weeks.

Boaters and barge lines that use the Columbia are advised to use caution while the river is low. River users and floating home owners in the Portland-Vancouver area can also check river forecasts offered through the National Weather Service.