BC Hydro is extending its public safety advisory to stay clear of the Campbell River through Wednesday, Nov. 17.
“River flows, and the water flow around Elk Falls, will continue to be high and dangerous,” said spokesperson Stephen Watson, who noted temporary safety signage along the falls area and the river will be updated on Monday, Nov. 15.
Right now the river is flowing at around 110 cubic metres per second in Elk Falls Canyon, and the flow was as high as 130 m3/s for a few days when BC Hydro was spilling extra water.
Watson say that flow was the highest seen in three years, but still quite a bit lower than it was in 2016, when it was as high as 480 m3/s; more than four times the current flow rate.
While the river may be dangerous for those who get too close, Watson said it is manageable.
“It allows us to move water of the reservoirs for flood risk management, yet also considers salmon habitat, which means gravel movement within the canyon and downstream Campbell River.
“It’s fortunate we were able to stay around this flow rate, versus going higher.”
BC Hydro is passing the water flows down the Campbell River system from its Strathcona, Ladore and John Hart dams.
“The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake hit a high of about 219.9 m on Nov, 5,” Watson said. “It moved down to 219.25 m but is currently at 219.45 m, and slowly rising.
“The Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake provides about 80 percent of the watershed’s water storage. By the end of this week the reservoir level may be around 219 metres.”
He added BC Hydro prefers to see the reservoir level below 220.5 metres for flexibility in flood risk management operations.
Precipitation rates in the upper watershed have been well above normal for October, and November to date, but the weather forecast looks better for the week ahead.
“This watershed has been on the edge of the last three atmospheric events to hit the coast over the past week or so, including the major event currently hitting southern Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley areas,” Watson said.
“The Campbell River watershed in the past 48 hours has had about 55 mm of rain, versus over 300 mm of rain for the Jordan River watershed near Sooke.”