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Slight increase in Columbia River levels

Casual onlookers might be forgiven for thinking the Columbia River is on a big rise.

However, there has only been a slight increase according to B.C. Hydro.

Discharge rates were increased slightly on Jan. 5 according to a company report, which caused slight rise in levels.

Factors such as snow pack and weather patterns influence the degree of fluctuation in the elevation of reservoirs, and in turn, the level of the river, explained Kelvin Ketchum, system optimization manager for BC Hydro.

The discharge rates from Hugh Keenleyside Dam were increased slightly from 59,000 cubic feet per second to 70,000 cubic feet per second in the last couple of weeks.

In layman’s terms, this means that with combined outflows from the Kootenay River and other tributaries, Columbia River levels at Birchbank are expected to rise by 1.7 feet.

By this date, usually about one-half of the annual B.C. snow pack has accumulated.

The B.C. River Forecast centre offers a positive outlook for the spring  due to present snow packs being “normal” across the province, there are no early indications of increased seasonal flood risk.

Additionally, the centre forecasts that at this point, there are no strong indications of a high likelihood of extreme wet or dry seasonal weather throughout the rest of the accumulation season.

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