This will be a good week to see Elk Falls at its thundering best.
Starting tonight, BC Hydro will be increasing the discharge from the John Hart Dam down the Elk Falls Canyon for flood risk management. Stephen Watson, BC Hydro's manager of community relations, reported that the base water flow in the canyon is about 4 m3/s, and this level will be increased to about 40 m3/s. This is the first time BC Hydro has spilled water over the normal canyon base flow since January 2010.
The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake has risen by about 70 cm since late last week and is now at 219.6 m. This is about 40 cm below the flood buffer level.
The weather is forecast to be dry for the next few days but turn wetter again over the weekend, Watson said. BC Hydro's preference is to release smaller amounts of water over longer periods of time in consideration of gravel movement for fish habitat and flood risk management. BC Hydro anticipates the 40 m3/s spill to be in place through to Feb. 16.
With the approximate tenfold increase in canyon flows this will a good opportunity to check out the enhanced visuals of Elk Falls, Watson said.
For perspective, flow releases down the canyon from the November 2009 and January 2010 flood risk management events were about 110 m3/s and 270 m3/s, respectively.