BC Hydro forecasts that the water supply forecast for the Campbell River system from February to September will be 3% below normal.
Spokesman Stephen Watson noted that it’s still early days and a lot can change over the next few months if the dry weather continues or suddenly becomes wet.
“For the broader water supply forecast, snowpack on Vancouver Island is near normal for this time of year. The snowpack typically peaks around the end of April and we expect supplies to the watershed to increase as the snow melts,” Watson said.
The past four years have seen drier than normal late winter and spring weather on Vancouver Island. For February to date, precipitation in the upper watershed has been 79% of normal.
“We’ll see what happens in 2022,” Watson said.
Water levels in the upper watershed are generally where they should be for this time of year.
“The largest of the three reservoirs, Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake, currently sits at 216.9 meters, which is in the prime zone,” Watson said.
“The preferred reservoir level range adjusts lower in the spring and at the lower end is 213.5 meters. The reservoir is considered full at 220.5 meters. With the current dry weather forecast, the level The reservoir may continue to slowly decline in the short term This is the same situation for the Lower Campbell / Lake McIvor Reservoir, which is currently at 177.2 meters, and has a smaller preferred seasonal range of 176 meters at 177.8 meters until June 21.
The John Hart Generating Station is operating near full capacity and currently operating at approximately 118 cubic meters per second (m3/s).
“We plan to reduce flows on February 15 to around 100 m3/s. A flow of 80 m3/s keeps fish habitat in the river well covered and will be good for salmon fry as they begin their migration to the ocean,” Watson said.
Water inflows into the Campbell River system over the next week are expected to be approximately 55 m3/s.
Fish migration flows
BC Hydro is also warning the public of higher water flows in the Elk Falls Canyon to help rainbow trout migrate and spawn below Elk Falls.
It starts five, two day rainbow trout migration and spawning streams in the Elk Falls Canyon.
“It’s about giving the fish access to good habitat from the powerhouse tunnel exit area to the base of Elk Falls,” Watson said.
Water releases from the John Hart Dam, which will increase from 4 m3/s to 10 m3/s, will begin on March 2 and 3 and will take place every Wednesday and Thursday until March 31.
A public river safety advisory will be in place from John Hart Dam to Elk Falls during migration flows. “Please stay clear of the river at this location during migration flows,” Watson said.
Safety signage will be in place.
Out of consideration for public safety, BC Hydro begins increasing water flows for each of the dam’s migration flows at night.
BC Hydro can provide an update on water supply and operations in March.