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BC Hydro provides Campbell River system update

Mother Nature is helping conditions on the Campbell River Watershed.

That’s what spokesman Stephen Watson is saying in BC Hydro’s update on the watershed’s water supply forecast for the summer, and its hydroelectric operations.

Watson said conditions have been helped in the past month by water inflows from snowmelt and average rainfall for May.

The upper watershed precipitation for the month of May was 102 percent of average. 

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However, Watson added that precipitation has been lower than normal from February to April. 

“The snowpack looks to be depleted in the next few weeks. There was significant snowmelt contribution into the system in May,” he said. 

“The (number) of inflows from rainfall and snowmelt contributions had the inflows into the reservoirs at about 110 percent of normal for the month of May.”

 The updated June water supply forecast for the period of February to September is showing 81 percent of normal, while its residual forecast for water inflow from June to September is about 56 percent of normal.

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 BC Hydro has been providing a downstream flow of about 100 cubic metres per second (m3/s) below its John Hart facilities down the Campbell River. 

Generally, the three dams and generating station run in tandem to provide downstream flows. 

Looking ahead, Stephen said BC Hydro will work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to look at reducing flows as we move through June. 

Generally, 80 m3/s keeps the riverbed and fish habitat fully covered with water. 

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“When we reduce flows below that level, which we do each summer, we will have our biologists on the river to move fish that may get isolated back into the Campbell River mainstem,” Watson said.

The final flow reduction down to about 30 m3/s will be in place by July 1.

Water inflows into the Campbell River watershed are currently about 90 m3/s but are dropping with the depleting snowpack, Watson noted.

The water level in Upper Campbell Reservoir/Butte Lake is currently 217.6 metres. 

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The summer recreation target from mid-June to early September is 217 m to 220.5 m. 

BC Hydro forecasts, with some flow reductions sooner than normal in June, that the reservoir level may be near the lower end of that target range through the summer. 

The summer recreation levels may be lower given the snowpack depleting earlier than normal.

The Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor Lake is currently at about 177 metres. The current forecast has the reservoir level staying on the lower end of the summer recreation level targets of 176.5 metres to 177.5 metres.

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