BC Hydro to spill water Tuesday evening for flood risk management

BC Hydro will be increasing the spill below the John Hart Dam beginning Tuesday evening because of an increase in precipitation flowing into the Campbell River watershed.

About 200 mm of precipitation has fallen in the upper Campbell River watershed this month, according to Stephen Watson, BC Hydro stakeholder engagement advisor. While there has been significant snow accumulation in the upper elevations since March 1, with one of the snow pillow gauges registering about 275 mm of snow water equivalent, a lot of this precipitation has fallen as rain and provided consistently elevated water inflows into the Campbell River system. This has resulted in the Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake level rising into its flood buffer zone.

The Upper Campbell Reservoir has come up almost one metre over the past week to 219.9 metres.

Beginning Tuesday evening, Hydro will increase the spill below the John Hart Dam down Elk Falls Canyon above the base river flow of 4 m3/s. The water flows below the dam will be increased to 85 m3/s – a 21-fold increase – and possibly up to 100 m3/s over the following 10 days through March 18.

Total discharges down the Campbell River from the canyon and the outflow from the generating station will go from about 115 m3/s to about 195 m3/s.

The ocean tides are high this week and there is a forecast for some ocean storm surges from winds and atmospheric low pressure, typically associated with stormy weather.

The public is advised to stay away from the Campbell River below the John Hart dam through to the estuary. The high flow conditions will likely last until March 18. Safety warning signage will be placed along the river system.

“Please view the water going over Elk Falls from the safety of the suspension bridge,” Watson says.

The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake is 3.4 metres higher than average for this time of year. The Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor lake is at 177.7 metres and is 0.3 metres higher than average for this time of year.

“We are following some storm activity forecasted for Wednesday but much of this storm has shifted farther south,” Watson says. “There is also a potential significant storm on Saturday.”

The recent snow accumulation has increased the Wolf River (upper) snow pillow to an above average snowpack.