Hydro release making room for late snowmelt
Floodgates are being opened at the Comox Lake Dam on Thursday night, to make some room in the reservoir.
"BC Hydro is currently releasing about 32 m3/s from Comox Dam. Flow releases will increase to 90 m3/s by Friday morning, shifting to 45 m3/s by Wednesday morning, and back down to 32 m3/s by next Saturday morning. The 90 m3/s release will be good for kayakers," said BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson.
Signage will be in place to warn the public to stay clear of the higher flows, which are fast-moving and strong. By doing a big release now, BC Hydro is hoping to provide safer conditions at the height of summer, though there are a lot of factors to consider.
"The snow pack is still high and BC Hydro is releasing more water to absorb the delayed snow melt through the rest of June and into July," Watson explained. "These operational decisions consider the returning Summer Chinook, out migration of DFO’s Chinook juveniles, reservoir level control, and to limit downstream high water releases as the weather hopefully gets warmer for the tubing season. There are no flood risk management concerns."
A cool spring has delayed the snow melt, and is considered a factor in the late return of the Summer Chinook.
"Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has conducted weekly snorkel surveys and have yet to see significant returning Summer Chinook," said Watson. "BC Hydro and DFO are collaborating on potential river flow tests to determine the flow level where these fish can move above the fish weir at DFO’s Lower Hatchery. These tests are on hold until more fish enter the river system."
Still, DFO is set to release hatchery raised Chinook juveniles over the next week. The higher release of water from the dam will help these salmon migrate out to sea and past predators.
BC Hydro will commence its annual summer fish migration flows beginning June 12-13, taking place over five weeks every Tuesday and Wednesday through to July 11. BC Hydro doubles the river flow at Nymph Falls and Stotan Falls areas of the river to allow fish to move upstream and move above river obstacles.
"The public should be cautious in this stretch of river when the migration flows are in place," warned Watson, adding, "River flows downstream of the generating station are generally unchanged."
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