Hydro flushing extra water down Puntledge River

Beginning this Saturday evening and through Tuesday, BC Hydro will increase Puntledge River flow levels.

Beginning this Saturday evening and through Tuesday, BC Hydro will increase and hold water Puntledge River flow levels that will be about 350 per cent of normal, or about 110 cubic metres per second.

This flow will be ideal for whitewater kayaking and can draw people from across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Outside of the experienced kayak community, BC Hydro advises the public to stay away from the Puntledge River from Sunday through Tuesday, media liaison Stephen Watson said Wednesday in a news release.

The planned water release is for flood risk management and to further lower the reservoir in anticipation of the larger storm systems later this fall, he explained.

The updated weather modelling for the region, for this fall and winter, is for wetter and cooler conditions because of the La Niña weather influences. For 2011, the rain and snowmelt runoff into the reservoir, year to date, is the sixth wettest in 48 years of BC Hydro recorded data.

The Comox Lake Reservoir level has been slowly trending down with the recent dry weather. It is currently at 134.0 metres, or about 1.3 metres from the elevation where water free-spills over the dam. The level will continue to drift downward until the forecasted rain activity this week will increase water inflows into the reservoir.

BC Hydro has been releasing about 140 per cent of normal water discharges below the Comox Dam to control water levels since the last significant storm hit the Comox Valley, Watson said.

The percentage of flows above normal is the excess water released over above the requirements for maximum power generation and fish habitat flows in the Stotan Falls stretch of the Puntledge River.

BC Hydro is providing seasonal fish migration flows each Friday and Saturday. These migration and spawning flows for fall chinook started last week and will stop at the end of October.

For these water releases, the total river flow below the dam is near 100 per cent of normal. BC Hydro modifies river flows within the five-kilometre Stotan Falls stretch of the river between the Puntledge Diversion Dam and the generating station to benefit salmon, Watson stated.

— BC Hydro

Comox Valley Record