Last year saw the driest fall on BC Hydro’s record, according to a presentation to Campbell River City Council.
Stephen Watson, the stakeholder Engagement Advisor for BC Hydro, told council that despite the tough conditions they were dealing with, BC Hydro was still able to get things done.
“We’re fortunate to have been able to provide enough water for salmon to migrate and spawn,” says Watson.
“On the Quinsam River system, we actually voluntarily put some pumps into Upper Quinsam lake to stain river flows downstream for salmon, and I think we overall did well under very trying conditions.”
Last year saw initially persistent spring and early summer showers in the Comox Valley, with Water/Wastewater Services senior manager Kris La Rose saying that If the fish flow drops below the typical flow of 15.4m3/s down the river, it would trigger a shift to Stage 2.
A few months later, a 53-year-old record was broken in Campbell River back in September, with the lowest inflows at around 17.4 percent for the Strathcona area.
Thousands of fish died and multiple river systems were affected in an unexpectedly impactful way as a result, with December seeing record-low water levels for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, marking the lowest accumulated inflows in over 60 years.
Watson adds that BC Hydro is currently looking at a water supply forecast of 82 per cent of normal from February to September of this year, with several areas having been dry for some time.
“It has been dry, so it would likely drop further, so we’ll be having a hard time meeting the reservoir target levels for the summer,” says Watson.
“We are in water conservation mode right now, and we’re running the John Hart Dam at full capacity at around 125 cm/ second, and we hope to increase flows come mid-April.”
While there is still time to get some snowpack, Watson adds that so far it’s looking to be still dry.