BC Hydro contends with drier-than-normal conditions on the Campbell River system

April precipitation is eight per cent of normal so far

Precipitation in April so far has been eight per cent of normal, BC Hydro reports.

That’s following a March that saw precipitation levels 55 per cent of normal. February was 94 per cent of normal, BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson reports in his monthly update on hydroelectric operations on the Campbell River.

“After a very wet January, the weather since then has been drier than normal,” Watson says.

The Vancouver Island snowpack is below normal for this time year. The snowpack typically peaks around the end of April.

BC Hydro’s February to September water supply forecast is updated each month. This forecast guides the utility’s Campbell River operations and water management for various water use interests such fish habitat, recreation and power generation. As of early April, the water supply forecast for the February to September period is showing 79 per cent of normal.

The three dams and powerhouses on the Campbell River system are generally run in tandem, with the current total water discharge below the John Hart facilities into the Campbell River being just over 80 cubic metres per second (m3/s). The riverbed is fully covered with water at about 80 m3/s. This flow rate will continue through April 30.

The Elk Falls Canyon minimum fish habitat flow is 4 m3/s. Since Wednesday last week, to April 16, BC Hydro has increased the flow to 7 m3/s for fish migration below the falls. Tmporary safety awareness signage has been placed, though given the adjacent trails and suspension bridge area are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there should not be anyone by the canyon.

RELATED: Canyon View Trail loop, Elk Falls suspension bridge to close temporarily

Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake is currently at about 216.2 metres, and is generally where it should be for this time of year. The summer recreation reservoir target level starting in June is between 217 metres to 220.5 metres. The Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor Lake is currently at 177 metres and is also roughly where it should be for this time of year. The target for this reservoir’s summer recreation level is 176.5 metres to 177.5 metres. For these reservoirs and summer recreation, we will have a better idea on achieving those target ranges when we receive the updated water supply forecast in May.

The John Hart Reservoir is generally held at the same level year-round.

Campbell River reservoir levels and river flows this spring and summer will be dependent on snowmelt and rain events. The regime is subject to change based on a variety of weather and operational factors. An update will be provided in early May.

RELATED: BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

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