Elk Falls flowing at 60 cubic metres per second. Photo courtesy BC Hydro

BC Hydro increases discharge from Campbell River dam in anticipation of potential rainstorm

BC Hydro has been monitoring the weather closely, keeping an eye on the potential for a subtropical storm to hit the region on Sunday and Monday.

BC Hydro has been monitoring the weather closely, keeping an eye on the potential for a subtropical storm to hit the region on Sunday and Monday.

As a result, the power utility is doubling the discharge from the John Hart Dam.

The forecast worsened from yesterday to today, so, effective immediately, BCHydro is ramping up the discharge from John Hart Dam from 55 cubic metres per second (m3/s) to 110 m3/s, Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson said in an update this afternoon.

“Safety signage is already in place. We ask the public to continue to stay away from Elk Falls and the Campbell River,” Watson said. “We are potentially looking at an atmospheric river event with heavy rainfall; though of particular concern is the freezing level may jump to around 2,000 metres. Given the significant snow on the ground, there is the potential for very high water inflows into the reservoirs.”

The total discharge through the John Hart generating station and the spillway down the Campbell River today will go from 155 m3/s to 210 m3/s.

Related: Rising water levels prompt BC Hydro to increase water discharge down the Campbell River

The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake is currently at about 219 metres and holding steady.

“The reservoir is already on the higher side given the recent storm activity and we would like to lower the level a bit ahead of the potential Sunday storm,” Watson said. “Given it is about three days out, forecasts can change.

“BC Hydro will adjust operations by increasing flows or decreasing flows as necessary, particularly with the high ocean tides and the Quinsam River flows into the Campbell River. Gravel in the Elk Falls Canyon begins to move at flow rates above 110 m3/s so we will keep it just below that threshold for now until there is more certainty. The next consideration for gravel movement is in the mainstem of the Campbell River when flows reach above 350 m3/s. Dam safety and flood risk management are the highest priorities.

“We will reach out to the City of Campbell River should there be any potential isolated downstream flood risk next week.”

BC Hydro will issue operational updates as needed to continue to inform the community, Watson said.