BC Hydro is advising anglers to be cautious around the Campbell River from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15.
River flows on hydroelectric systems can change whether through planned or unplanned adjustments. BC Hydro has permanent public warning signage along the river and sirens that initiate once a certain flow rate threshold is reached.
“BC Hydro has the ability in our water licence to adjust operations at our John Hart facility to respond to electric system demands, planned outages within our grid system, and to make the most economic use through market conditions of water stored in our reservoirs,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “We are least restricted through our licence in January and the first two weeks of February, and that’s because it’s tied to the fish life-cycle. Salmon eggs are in the gravel. And there are no adult salmon; they’ve finished the spawning cycle.”
Watson said the fish habitat is fully covered with water at about 80 cubic metres per second and that Hydro will not go below that level.
However, they can adjust discharges out of the generating station above that flow rate up to about 130 m3/s quite quickly and hold it there for hours before going back down.
“The electricity spot market is generally lower at night and higher during the day,” says Watson. “BC Hydro is fortunate with our many hydroelectric facilities across the province to be able to conserve water at night and then increase power generation during the day to look after our domestic load needs and take advantage of the favourable market conditions. It helps keep our rates lower.”
BC Hydro has four hydroelectric watersheds on Vancouver Island, with the three others being the Puntledge, Ash and Jordan river facilities. BC Hydro can adjust operations for daily market conditions on all of them except for Puntledge.
The ability to be able to “load factor” as BC Hydro calls it, came from the community water use planning process completed years ago and implemented beginning in November 2012.
This is the first time the water conditions have allowed BC Hydro to employ this operational flexibility at the John Hart facility. BC Hydro has done this for years at the Strathcona generating facility in the upper Campbell River watershed.
“We ask that fishers that may be in or around the river to be aware of this operational flexibility and to be cautious during this six-week period.
We will try to ramp up the flows in the early morning before daylight, but the timing of flow changes ultimately depends on electric system conditions and how much water is available in the Campbell River system reservoirs.”