Rising water levels prompt BC Hydro to increase water discharge down the Campbell River

The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake water level has steadily increased over the past week from all the storm activity, BC Hydro says.

“To help control the reservoir level we will be increasing the water discharge from our John Hart facilities,” Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson says. “We ask the public to please stay away from the Campbell River from Elk Falls to the estuary through next Tuesday.”

BC Hydro currently has a standing public safety notice of the higher than normal flows down Elk Falls Canyon through to early May because of work on the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project. The existing powerhouse is down to five operating generators and will go down to four generators in early February. All required downstream fish habitat flows are being supplemented by water releases down the canyon.

Given the increasing upstream reservoir levels and the modest storms forecasted this week, the total downstream Campbell River flow will go from about 105 cubic metres per second (m3/s) to about 155 m3/s tonight – 55 m3/s will flow through the canyon.

With restricted power generation, BC Hydro is spilling water earlier than normal to try to keep the canyon flow from going above 110 m3/s. Gravel in the canyon begins to move at flow rates above 110 m3/s.

The Upper Campbell Reservoir is currently at 218.8 metres. It has come up 1.5 metres the past week.

“We begin to get concerned about the reservoir level once it approaches 220 metres and above,” Watson says.

The Quinsam River flow rate into the Campbell River is currently around 57 m3/s.