Elk Falls flowing at 60 cubic metres per second. Photo courtesy BC Hydro

Last chance to see a vigorous Elk Falls

Flow to be returned to normal by Tuesday

BC Hydro is extending the public safety advisory to stay away from the Campbell River, particularly above Elk Falls, through Tuesday morning.

“Please view Elk Falls from the safety of the Elk Falls suspension bridge,” BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson said.

The flow over the falls will be high this weekend but by Tuesday it will be reduced drastically. The canyon flow will combine with a reduced flow out of the John Hart Generating Station, maintaining a combined flow in the Campbell River of about 200 cubic metres per second (m3/s).

BC Hydro has made a commitment to report to the community and stakeholders its actions in managing the water flow levels in the Campbell River hydroelectric system because of its potential impact on fish habitat and flooding in the Campbell River.

After the first public notice last Friday (Nov. 24), BC Hydro increased the water spill down Elk Falls Canyon to 100 cubic meters per second (m3/s) on Sunday. The utility has maintained that water discharge and reduced the canyon flow down to 60 m3/s Wednesday evening. The weather forecast is looking much drier into next week.

BC Hydro plans to provide a canyon flow of 60 m3/s to 100 m3/s through to Monday and reduce the flow further to the base flow of 4 m3/s by Tuesday morning.

By releasing the extra water past BC Hydro’s three Campbell River dams, the company has been able to slightly reduce the rate of rise in the Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake. The current level is 219.9 metres and has levelled off. It should stay in this range and begin to trend down very slowly starting this weekend.

The reservoir has increased by about 3.7 metres over the past 10 days from all the storm activity and snowmelt. Though subject to weather, BC Hydro prefers to preserve the reservoir flood control zone of 220.5 metres to 222 metres for more intensive flood risk management operations.

The five of the six remaining operating units in the John Hart generating station continue to run at full capacity, and with the canyon flow, are combining to provide a total Campbell River flow of about 200 m3/s. The river flow below the generating station dropped to about 160 m3/s Wednesday night.

Gravel within the Elk Falls Canyon begins to move at flow rates of about 110 m3/s and higher and Hydro has been able to keep flows below that threshold out of consideration for fish habitat and recent spawning activity.

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