BC Hydro is predicting the water supply forecast for the Campbell River system from February to September will be three per cent less than usual.
Spokesperson Stephen Watson noted, it is still early, and much can change over the next few months should the dry weather continue, or suddenly turn wet.
“For the broader water supply forecast, the Vancouver Island snowpack is near normal for this time of year. The snowpack typically peaks around the end of April, and wee expect inflows into the watershed to increase around the time of the snowmelt,” Watson said.
In the last four years, the late winter and spring period has been drier than normal for Vancouver Island. For February to date, the precipitation in the upper watershed has been 79% of normal.
“We’ll see what happens in 2022,” Watson said.
The water levels in the upper watershed are generally where they should be for this time of year.
“The largest of the three reservoirs, Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake, is currently at 216.9 metres, which is within the preferred zone,” Watson said.
“The preferred reservoir level range adjusts lower into the spring and at the lower end is 213.5 metres. The reservoir is considered full at 220.5 metres. With the current dry weather forecast the reservoir level may continue to slowly drop in the short term. This is the same situation for the Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor Lake, which is currently at 177.2 metres, and has a smaller preferred seasonal range from 176 metres to 177.8 metres through to June 21.”
The John Hart generating station has been running near full capacity and currently at about 118 cubic metres per second (m3/s).
“We plan to reduce flows on February 15 to about 100 m3/s. An 80 m3/s flow rate keeps fish habitat within the river nicely covered, and will be good for the salmon fry as they begin their out-migration to the ocean,” Watson said.
Water inflows into the Campbell River system over the next week are forecast to be around 55 m3/s.
Fish migration flows
BC Hydro is also warning to public of higher water flows within Elk Falls Canyon to assist steelhead in migrating and spawning below Elk Falls.
It is commencing five, two-day in duration, steelhead migration and spawning flows down Elk Falls Canyon.
“This is to enable fish to access good habitat from the powerhouse tunnel outlet area up to the base of Elk Falls,” Watson said.
The water releases from the John Hart dam, which will increase from 4 m3/s to 10 m3/s, will begin March 2-3 and take place each Wednesday and Thursday to March 31.
A public river safety advisory will be in place from John Hart dam to Elk Falls during the migration flows. “Please stay away from the river at this location during the migration flows,” Watson said.
Safety signage will be in place.
Out of consideration for public safety, BC Hydro begins to increase the water discharges for each of the migration flows from the dam at night.
BC Hydro may provide a water supply and operations update in March.
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