BC Hydro is forecasting the lowest water supply levels for the Campbell River system in 60 years. BC Hydro photo

Campbell River eyeing lowest summer water supply forecast in 60 years

Dry weather conditions since February have been followed by record low rainfall in May

Dry weather conditions since February, a record low rainfall for May and the lowest summer water supply forecast in 60 years has BC Hydro eyeing the fall salmon migration and spawning period on the Campbell River with some concern.

BC Hydro is continuing to closely monitor the water conditions in the Campbell River watershed that has been helped in the past month by water inflows from snowmelt but the summer season and the fall salmon migration and spawning period continue to be the focus of concern.

The very dry weather conditions since February have been followed up by a record low rainfall for the month of May, according to a Campbell River system update from BC Hydro.

The upper watershed precipitation for the month of May was only 16 per cent of average, BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson says in his BC Hydro operations update issued Tuesday. Precipitation has been sparse since February. On average, from February through May, we would see about 559 mm of precipitation. In 2019, we only had 268 mm over that period.

In addition, the snowpack looks to be depleted in the next week or two, and is well below normal. About 1000 mm of snow to water equivalent has melted in the upper watershed since the beginning of May.

“Our February to September water supply forecast is updated each month,” Watson says. “Our updated June water supply forecast for the period of February to September is showing 64 per cent of normal. The residual forecast for water inflow from June to September is 51 per cent of normal. This is the lowest water supply forecast in about 60 years of our records.”

On March 25, BC Hydro reduced the Campbell River flow to about 69 cubic metres per second (m3/s). On May 23, over two days, the company reduced the flow down to 58 m3/s. Then last week through Monday this week, it lowered the river flow in 2 m3/s steps to 40 m3/s.

“This is below the preferred level of 80 m3/s that keeps the riverbed fully covered with water,” Watson says. “Each time we reduced flows, we had our biologists on the river to move fish that may get isolated back into the Campbell River mainstem.”

The final flow reduction down to about 30 m3/s will happen later this month. Since February, BC Hydro has been in close communication with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

These river flow reductions have occurred due to the lack of water. This has somewhat helped summer recreation users, and may save a little water storage for early fall for salmon migration and spawning.

Water inflows into the Campbell River system are now about 40 to 70 m3/s and dropping with the depleting snowpack.

The water level in Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake is currently 216.4 metres. The summer recreation target from mid-June to early September is 217 m to 220.5 m. BC Hydro forecasts, despite these efforts to further conserve water, and unless there is a significant change in the weather, that the reservoir level may only hit a high of about 216.6 metres later this month before slowly drifting downward. The reservoir level forecast increased slightly over last month given the earlier than normal snowmelt and timing of the ramp down in river flow. The downside is the summer inflows may be lower with the snowpack depleted earlier.

The Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor Lake is currently at about 175.9 metres. The current forecast has the reservoir level staying close to this level in the summer, below the summer recreation level of 176.5 metres to 177.5 metres.

Just Posted

Impaired driving charge approved in Saanich hit and run that left woman in coma

‘This was a significant crash that caused serious injuries,’ say police

Vancouver Islander spots online photo of stolen totem pole 11 years later

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

VicPD called to Beacon Hill Park after body found

Suspicious circumstances not ruled out in apparent sudden death

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many of the protesters were children and youth who skipped school to take part in the demonstrations.

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

Island Health confirms second rabies case, this time in Saanich

Island teachers making noise for a new deal

Representatives target Comox Valley MLA concerned about class size and composition issues

VicPD investigates stabbing near Selkirk Montessori school

Victim in potentially life-threatening condition

Most Read