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

Vancouver Island woman wins $100,000 weight-loss challenge

Campbell River’s Kendrah Paul lost 140 pounds

Bamfield residents, visitors pressure province as anniversary of fatal crash approaches

Letter-writing campaign makes ‘heartfelt, emotional pleas’ to improve road conditions

Vancouver Island MLA says too much on shoulders of RCMP

Reformed Police Act could look at spreading responsibility to other responders

In a pandemic, Island tinkerer grabs on to whatever floats your boat

Pieter Stegeman built rescue raft ‘Air-Float-One’ out of recycled materials to keep himself busy

Flyers’ Duncan-born goalie coach checks in from the NHL bubble in Toronto

Kim Dillabaugh speaks about hockey restart as he chases the Stanley Cup isolated from family

STANDING TALL: Forestry workers meet the challenges, remain hopeful

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Missed rent payments ‘cause of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due.

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

WE Charity registers as lobbyist, lays off staff, looking to sell real estate

WE Charity said its financial position has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

Nanaimo assault leaves man with broken face

RCMP seek witnesses to Aug. 10 late morning incident near Superstore

Vancouver Islander named Rugby Canada’s top young player

Mill Bay’s Will McDougall-Percillier “really stoked about getting this award”

Kwa’lilas Hotel wins award from TripAdvisor

The Kwa’lilas Hotel opened its doors to the public back in 2017.

Port Alberni unlocking a ‘Quay to Quay’ connection

Port Alberni council has proposed connecting city’s Victoria Quay to Harbour Quay

Most Read