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Campbell River water supply seeing third lowest water inflows in 54 years

October and November have been unusually dry months for the Campbell River water system, and BC Hydro is hoping for more rain next week.

BC Hydro says precipitation in the upper watershed has been very low, with 58 per cent of normal for October and only 38 per cent of normal for November so far.

November is normally the wettest month of the year, but the low amount of precipitation means inflows to the watershed have only been 20 to 30 per cent of what is expected.

BC Hydro says it is close to being the driest it has been in 54 years of record.

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The upper Campbell Reservoir is currently at 214.65 metres, according to Hydro. They say it is expected levels will drop to 214 metres before fall rains help it to recover.

Lower Campbell Reservoir is in a similar situation at 175.2 metres.

Flows in the Campbell River have increased from 40 cubic metres per second to 63 since September. However, Hydro adds the target flow for Chinook spawning between 100 to 125 cubic metres per second.

Pumping from upper Quinsam Lake into Wokas Lake began on Oct. 17 so water could be sent down the Quinsam River to protect fish habitat. Water was pumped at a rate of just under one cubic metre per second until Nov. 2.

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The lake level itself has only risen 10 centimetres since late October because of the continued dry conditions and the colder weather.

Pumping equipment is on standby until inflows are near normal.

“There is some forecasted rain next week so hopefully we will see a nice rise in water inflows,” said stakeholder engagement advisor Stephen Watson. “It is likely that the Campbell River flow will remain at 65 cubic meters per second into next week.”

Hydro adds it is fortunate that Vancouver Island is on an integrated province power system and supply is not an issue.

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