Spray from the force of water going over Elk Falls on Saturday cascades upwards in front of the viewing platform at the suspension bridge giving many viewers a refreshing shower.

Campbell River forecast takes a turn for the worse; BC Hydro braces for more rain

BC Hydro is bracing for another deluge after a weekend that didn’t turn out as bad as originally feared.

“The weather forecast has taken a turn for the worse and the significant storms look to potentially continue through the week,” BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson reported Monday afternoon. “Precipitation in the upper watershed could be upwards of 200 mm today (Monday) through Tuesday, about 25 mm on Wednesday with a possible lull.

“There then looks to be a similar storm to this on Thursday and Friday with about 140 mm forecasted, followed by another potential storm on Sunday, though that is a long ways out. There seems to be no storm reprieve to speak of.”

Watson said things can and likely will change.

Things were looking a little more optimistic on Sunday afternoon when Watson’s report said the rainstorm that hit on the weekend proved to not be as bad as feared.

“The storm last Friday-Saturday was not too bad,” Watson said Sunday. “The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake level was able to hold steady during the storm.”

But on Monday afternoon, things had changed, and the city announced that with even more heavy rain forecast to fall on our watershed, BC Hydro is increasing the flow in the Campbell River by another 10 per cent.

“Water levels have already risen to the edges of the river bank, and residents should be prepared for water levels to potentially overtop the river bank in the coming days,” says a warning from the city issued at 3:24 p.m. today. “This could cause localized flooding on properties along the river and in nearby low-lying areas through the coming week.”

Watson said today, the Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake is currently at 220.12 metres and starting to rise again.

Forecasted inflows for today and for the following four days were increasing and the potential for more rain each day sees daily inflows exceeding 1,000 cubic metres per second.

In response, BC Hydro increased the spill down Elk Falls Canyon beginning at 3 p.m. This will combine with the unregulated flows in the Quinsam River.

“We are trying to keep the Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake below 222 metres as at that level we must pass water inflows into the reservoir, downstream,” Watson said. “There is a potential for us to increase the flood risk management spill tomorrow to try to control the reservoir. High ocean tides and unregulated tributaries like the Quinsam River can influence river height in the lower river.

“BC Hydro remains closely engaged with the City of Campbell River, Strathcona Regional District and Emergency Management BC.”

Watson said

Meanwhile, the city is advising homeowners to take precautionary measures to shore up their property. They can get supplies for sandbags at the city’s Dogwood Operations Centre (385 S. Dogwood – enter from driveway on Merecroft to access sand and bags).

The city notified property owners along the river over the weekend and will continue to monitor the weather and river levels. Crews are on call to assist as necessary.

Call 250-287-7444 for after-hours emergency assistance. Supplies are also available at the Emcon yard at 7025 Gold River Highway (intersection of highway and Argonaut Road).

City transportation manager Drew Hadfield said that the municipality has not been too negatively impacted by the storm because the usual conditions that occur during rain events haven’t happened. Flooding downtown often occurs when there is a storm surge associated with a higher-than-normal tide.

The issues with the Campbell River and residences along its banks have more to do with the upstream inflows and BC Hydro’s attempts to manage the reservoir. So the city has not had too much to handle for now and doesn’t foresee too difficult a scenario, at least for now.

“I am hopeful,” Hadfield said.

Residents are warned to keep a safe distance from the river because of wet, slippery conditions and fast-flowing water. It is most dangerous above Elks Falls, where safety signs are posted.

BC Hydro recommends viewing Elk falls and the increased water flow from the safety of the suspension bridge.

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