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Flow over Elk Falls increased again to accommodate heavy rain, high freezing levels

BC Hydro will be increasing the flow over Elk Falls tonight.

BC Hydro will initiate a spill above base river flow below the John Hart Dam today.

The two upper Campbell River system reservoirs are now in their winter flood buffer zones and will initiate the spill to control the reservoirs for flood risk management

“We have been monitoring the series of forecasted storm systems and higher freezing levels causing snowmelt,” BC Hydro spokersperson Stephen Watson said. “The Campbell River system reservoirs have been filling during the past week and are forecasted to continue to fill. The water volume analogy we use is Upper Campbell Reservoir is a bathtub, Lower Campbell Reservoir is a bucket, and John Hart Reservoir is a tea cup.”

The water flows below the dam went from 4 m3/s to 80 m3/s – a 20-fold increase. This flow rate will is double the spill amount provided on Jan. 19 for the John Hart dam water intake gate trash rack cleaning. Flows below the generating station will increase by about 65 per cent to just over 200 m3/s.

“We are issuing a public river safety advisory for the Campbell River for people to please stay away from the river starting tonight and lasting for about 10 days,” Watson said. “The highest risk is below the John Hart dam to Elk Falls. Flow rates from the dam will be subject to change based on actual water inflows into the reservoir and by responding to the ocean’s tides. Depending on the tides and potential storm surge, BC Hydro may back off the discharges during high tides. Safety signage will be in place.”

Watson also asked people to view the water going over Elk Falls from the safety of the lookout and suspension bridge. The views should be spectacular.

At this time there is no downstream flood risk.

The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake is at 219.4 metres and is 1.7 metres higher than average for this time of year. The Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor lake is at 177.9 metres and is 0.4 metres higher than average for this time of year.

Water supply forecast

BC Hydro’s water supply forecast for February to September for water inflows coming into the Campbell River system is 102 per cent of normal, with 10th and 90th percentiles of 82 per cent and 115 per cent of normal. A much better water abundance situation as compared to last year. However, there are still a number of months to go before the freshet begins to see how the snowpack will evolve.