BC Hydro will once again need to spill water down Elk Falls Canyon and down the Campbell River. The storms the past few days peaked on Thursday with heavier rainfall along with warm temperatures causing snow melt in the upper mountains. Large amounts of water continues to enter the upstream reservoirs and BC Hydro needs to ease the rate of water rise.
On Thursday, the hourly inflows into Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake hit 900 cubic metres per second (m/s) and remained there from the early afternoon until around midnight. The reservoir has come up 1.1 metres in the past 36 hours to noon Friday. It is currently at 219.5 metres and is forecasted to continue to rise into Sunday.
The good news is the weather has turned drier and cooler today and that forecast looks to hold until at least mid next week.
To control the upstream reservoir’s and bring them back down to be able to provide flexibility for future storms, beginning at5:00 pm today, BC Hydro will lift the spillway gates at John Hart dam and increase the Elk Falls Canyon flow to 30 m3/s from the base flow of 4 m3/s. The Campbell River flow rate below the John Hart generating station, which is running at full capacity, will increase from about 125 m3/s to just over 150 m3/s.
BC Hydro forecasts the spill lasting for about a week. Discharge rates are subject to change.
BC Hydro has placed public safety signage upstream of Elk Falls that advises people to stay away from the river until the spill ends. People are advised to view the falls from designated areas and lookouts.
On average, BC Hydro spills water though Elk Falls about once a year for flood risk management, but this year has need to do so twice within the same month.
– Contributed by BC Hydro