BC Hydro doubling water release from John Hart Dam

The last time BC Hydro initiated a spill down Elk Falls Canyon in the month of September was 1997

BC Hydro is warning the public to be cautious around the Campbell River over the weekend..

BC Hydro will proceed with spilling water over the John Hart Dam and advises the public to stay away from the Campbell River, below dam to the estuary, through Monday. While the water inflows did not materialize as forecast yesterday, they were not insignificant. The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake has increased to 219.2 m, said BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson.

BC Hydro is monitoring the forecasted weather for the next few days, and particularly a large storm with up to 100 mm of rain over 24 hours tracking to hit the northern tip on Vancouver Island on Sunday. The concern is the possibility of the storm shifting southward. In addition, there is another strong storm hitting the Island on Monday and further wet weather for next week, while of less intensity.

BC Hydro’s updated forecast shows upstream water inflows into the Campbell River system to be an average of about 300 m3/s for the next five days. For background, gravel for fish habitat begins to move in the canyon at approximately 110 m3/s.

The Upper Campbell Reservoir will continue to rise and with its levels already unseasonably high, this evening, BC Hydro will commence a spill from John Hart Dam of 100 m3/s down the Elk Falls Canyon. The normal base flow is around 4 m3/s. A total release of approximately 220 m3/s through the hydroelectric system and below John Hart will limit the rate of rise in the upstream reservoirs for flood risk management. BC Hydro has discussed the forecasted weather and its operations with government fish agencies.

If the water inflow forecast is accurate, Upper Campbell Reservoir could reach around 220.25 m by Monday/Tuesday.

This is the third time in approximately 50 years that BC Hydro has initiated a spill down Elk Falls Canyon in the month of September.

There is currently no risk of downstream flooding. BC Hydro will provide a further update on Monday, in the early afternoon.

Last week, BC Hydro communicated to the community that it was slowly doubling water releases into the Campbell River, over a nine day period, to 122 m3/s by September 27. This is done each September to lower the upstream reservoirs in anticipation of the fall rains and flood risk management.