Hydro to increase Campbell River flows to support spawning steelhead

More water, more fish.

That’s the plan as BC Hydro gets set to release greater volumes of water from the John Hart Dam.

“This fish migration flow is intended to attract steelhead to spawning habitat within the canyon up to Elk Falls,” said Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson in a news release.

The five water releases will begin Feb. 19-20 and continue each Tuesday and Wednesday until completion on March 20. A public river safety advisory is in place from John Hart Dam to Elk Falls during the migration flows. The minimum fish habitat flow down Elk Falls Canyon is four cubic metres per second (m3/s). For the migration flows it will be increased to 10 m3/s.

Out of consideration for public safety, BC Hydro will increase the water discharge from the dam on Monday nights. The highest public safety risk is when water flows are increasing. BC Hydro advises the public to stay away from the river from John Hart Dam to Elk Falls, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, until March 20.

“The river flow may not be noticeably higher, but this is when it can be the most dangerous with the stronger currents,” said Watson.

The higher release of water is also expected to attract the curious.

The public viewing platform beside Elk Falls is the safest place to see the water cascading over the 25-metre falls.

Given the low water levels in the reservoir, BC Hydro will lower water discharges from the generating station during the steelhead migration flow so that downstream flows stay in the 65 m3/s range.

The Water Use Plan was developed through a community consultative process to find a better balance of social and environmental benefits within the Campbell River hydroelectric system.

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