Amount of water released from John Hart Dam increased

The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake has risen over one metre since Monday

  • Oct. 23, 2014 7:00 p.m.

For the first time since the spring of 2012, BC Hydro will release water down Elk Falls Canyon to reduce the risk of flooding.

“A big change in the weather systems the past week or two culminated last night (Tuesday) with high inflows,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson. “The transition from dry conditions to wet conditions was rapid and significant. And more water will coming over the next week.”

The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake has risen over one metre since Monday. This is on top of the increases from the previous week.

“The hourly water inflows into the Upper Campbell Reservoir peaked around 1,000 m3/s and that’s most we’ve seen in a few years,” Watson said. “The 1000 m3/s flow rate is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in 2.5 seconds. The daily average (Tuesday) was 380 m3/s but rivers were continuing to rise after midnight.”

With the abundance of water, BC Hydro is increasing the 121 MW John Hart generating station to full capacity today from 80 MW. Downstream the Campbell River flows were expected to be around 125 m3/s Wednesday.

BC Hydro is watching the weather forecast. A modest storm Wednesday is expected to be followed by a couple storm systems that may hit the area on the weekend. The five day forecast is showing daily inflows into the upper reservoir receding from 650 m/3s Wednesday to 120 m3/s by five days out, although that’s subject to change.

“While the rain has certainly been welcome these volumes are taking it to another level,” Watson said. “The reservoirs are moving towards flood buffer zones and BC Hydro’s preference is to spill smaller amounts of water over a longer period of time versus larger spills over short durations. This helps with flood risk management while taking into consideration fish habitat in the Campbell River and Elk Falls canyon.”

BC Hydro planned to increase the flow down Elk Falls Canyon from about 7 m3/s to about 40 m3/s last night. This will provide a total flow of about 165 m3/s by today.

“We anticipate spilling this water through this week and likely beyond,” Watson said.

BC Hydro advises the public to stay away from the Campbell River above Elk Falls while flows are elevated. Public warning signage will be placed in this area.

“This is the first time BC Hydro has released water down Elk Falls Canyon for flood risk management since the spring of 2012,” Watson said.