River levels are expected to rise starting Friday night and will likely remain higher than average until mid-June as BC Hydro deals with the snow melt.

Hydro workshops for huge project open to the public

Two-day workshop in Campbell River on May 23-24; big snow pack means hydro will begin releasing more water

Want to know more about one the largest planned hydro projects in province?

Find out everything you ever wanted to know and more about the proposed John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project during a two-day seminar in Campbell River.

The community environmental assessment seminars are open to the public and take place May 23-24, 1-8 p.m., at the Maritime Heritage Centre.

“The workshop is the culmination of more than four years of meetings (with stakeholders),” said BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson. “It’s by topic and we expect people to come and go.”

Different presenters will speak on various topics to be followed by  question and answer sessions. The opening day features a project overview and then presentations on vegetation and wildlife, contaminated soils, hydrology and hydraulics, and fish and fish habitat.

Day two will focus on water quality, archaeology, navigation, trails and access, accidents and malfunctions, and environmental management and monitoring.

The replacement project still requires final approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission, but BC Hydro is moving ahead with the environmental assessment process as well as narrowing down the contracting finalists.

Watson said hydro was pleased to receive eight “requests for qualifications” from contractors ready to bid on the job, now estimated at $1-$1.2 billion. Hydro will narrow down the list to three and the winning bid will be announced in summer 2013.

“Construction is expected to begin just weeks after the announcement,” said Watson.

The plan is to replace the current generating station as well as the old wood pipelines with a 2.1-kilometre tunnel through bedrock. The project will improve efficiency for generating electricity and will vastly improve seismic stability.

Water levels

The high snow pack and snow melt will keep the Campbell River flows fairly high this summer.

BC Hydro advises the recreation community, such as fishers and water enthusiasts, to be cautious if they decide to enter the river.

River flows may increase by 25 per cent this evening in response to the snow melt. The higher river flow will be in place through mid-June.

The water abundance will provide for good summer recreation within the Lower Campbell Reservoir and Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake. Reservoir levels should be in ideal ranges for most of the summer.

The May to September water supply forecast is currently showing 23 per cent higher than normal average.

The higher river flow should allow BC Hydro to keep the reservoir from going above 220.5 metres where shoreline erosion can begin and, at the same time, have the Campbell River flows in a better position for late summer recreation and fishing.