Danger risk increased at Elk Falls

On Thursday morning, BC Hydro was advising the public to stay away from the area upstream of Elk Falls due to high water volumes

Water levels on the Campbell River upstream from Elk Falls should be back to normal this evening.

On Thursday morning, BC Hydro was advising the public to stay away from the area upstream of Elk Falls due to high water volumes.

The 2.1 kilometre section of the Campbell River between the John Hart Dam and the generating station was experiencing high water. The high water was a result of a spill that became necessary after one of the station’s six generating units went out of service at 1:05 a.m. Thursday morning due to equipment failure.

The spill was required to bring river levels below the generating station back to normal. However, river levels between the dam and generating station remained high until the unit (Generator six) was back in operation around noon yesterday. just after the Mirror’s deadline.

The water release down the Elk Falls Canyon was currently about 24 m3/s. This effectively raised the river flow by six times the normal canyon flow and it may be maintained through the day.

BC Hydro had security patrolling the Elk Falls Canyon to advise the public of the dangers of the higher water flow.

BC Hydro was operating four of the six generating units to provide an output of 76 MW. BC Hydro had two of the six units down for annual maintenance.

BC Hydro’s preliminary estimate is that the river flow dropped from 80 m3/s down to 64 m3/s within a very short period of time. With the two units out of service for maintenance, BC Hydro’s on-site electrician was dispatched to the dam to increase the water release from the John Hart Spillway Dam to recover river flows.

The dam is approximately 2.1 km upstream of the powerhouse and the travel time for the water to arrive at the generating station and canyon confluence is about 45 minutes. A water gauge just upstream of the Quinsam River had river flows fully recovered by 2:40 a.m.  BC Hydro immediately notified government fish agencies and its 24/7 on-call fish response biologists.

Early indications are there may have been very limited impacts to fish. There was some dewatered fish habitat but no fish were seen stranded. The only potential impact may have been juvenile fish.

The primary potential risk to fish was between the generating station and the Quinsam River confluence. BC Hydro was in the process of re-starting the generating unit forced out of service yesterday.