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HomeNewsBC Hydro warns to steer clear of fast-moving Puntledge River, starting tonight

BC Hydro warns to steer clear of fast-moving Puntledge River, starting tonight

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BC Hydro is issuing a public safety notice to stay away from the Puntledge River, starting tonight through to Monday.

Spokesperson Stephen Watson says river flows will be high and temporary public safety signage will be in place.

Over the last month-and-a-half, the region has seen well above average rainfall and this trend will continue this weekend with up to about 100 mm of rain forecasted within the watershed. Temperatures may also be mild.

Watson says with their hydrologists forecasting a daily average of just over 100 cubic metres per second entering the Comox Lake Reservoir over the weekend, they’ll more than double the water discharge from the Comox Dam down the Puntledge River.

That will increase the flow from 30 to roughly 65 cubic metres per second, starting tonight. 

“Depending on actual water inflows into the system, as forecasts can change, we may reduce or increase flows to as high as 90 cubic metres per second on the weekend,” Watson said. 

The Comox Lake Reservoir is currently at 133.75 metres and above seasonal for this time of year. 

“We generally like to see it below 134 metres for available water storage and flood risk management considerations. Water begins to ‘free spill’ over the spillway section of the dam at 135.3 metres,” Watson said.

The plan is still to have the Puntledge River powerhouse back in service on Nov. 4th, Watson said, with up to about 27 metres per second passing down the penstock to the powerhouse at full power generation. 

Until then, all river flows are bypassing the penstock and flowing down the Barber’s Hole and Nymph Falls section of the river.

Watson said that on Tuesday morning the river flow will be reduced to about 21  cubic metres per second during the fish migration flow that we provide each week for the four weeks in October. 

Then on Thursday morning, the river flow may be increased back up to the 30  cubic metres per second to 60  cubic metres per second range depending on the weather forecast. 

“With the powerhouse temporarily out of service, we will reduce flows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as it provides better conditions for upstream salmon movement along the Nymph Falls section of the river. The temporary safety signage for this stretch of river will remain through Nov. 4th,” Watson said.

“As we look ahead to the typical November to January storm season, we also consider ocean tides in our operations. This weekend the ocean tides will be typical. The first of the seasonal king tides take place Nov. 7th to 10th, with the biggest tides happening Dec.4th to 11th and Jan. 2nd to 8th.”

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