BC Hydro will be increasing the Campbell River by nearly threefold on October 14 to provide enough water for returning adult chinook to spawn in key habitat. Starting at night on October 13, and into the early morning hours of October 14, BC Hydro will increase the discharge at John Hart from 30 cubic metres per second (m3/s), by about 10 m3/s per hour, to about 80 m3/s. This will be a significant increase in river flow so the public is advised to be cautious along the river from October 14 onward.
The 2013/2014 water supply year for BC Hydro has just ended, and with it, the driest water inflow year in 51 years of record. This time period goes from October 2013 to September 2014. BC Hydro has managed the system as well as possible over this record dry weather year.
The John Hart generating station has not run at full capacity since October 2013 as BC Hydro has strived to conserve water over the past 12 months. Despite the dry conditions, key fish habitat remained covered over the winter and spring for the out-migration of salmon smolts, and then into the summer, reservoir recreation levels were just managed to be achieved through late August.
Now with the return of the chinook, and in consideration of the below normal position of the main two upstream reservoirs, BC Hydro will increase the Campbell River flow to 80 m3/s for about 2.5 weeks to allow for them to spawn. Given the extended record dry conditions, and should that continue, BC Hydro may then drop the river flow up to 20 m3/s. This October flow regime has been worked out in coordination with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and in consideration of the Campbell River system’s water use plan. These decisions are made in consideration of corrective action needed to balance the entire watershed, and specifically the Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor Lake and Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake after the spawning flows are provided.
With the hopeful arrival of the fall rains, BC Hydro will begin to shift our attention to potential flood risk management operations. On that side of the coin, and entering the fall season with low reservoir conditions, we are well positioned.
– Contributed by BC Hydro.