Comox Lake water level is only at 131.8 metres, 1.5 metres below average for this time of year. (Stephen Watson/Twitter)

Vancouver Island water system at 50-year low

“Winter drought” has Comox Lake/Puntledge River system in full conservation mode

Typically at this time of year, Vancouver Island river systems would be running at near-capacity.

But less precipitation and colder weather has resulted in low water evels and the lowest March water inflows from Comox Lake in 50 years.

According to Stephen Watson, stakeholder engagement advisor with BC Hydro, the Comox Lake/Puntledge River system is operating in full water conservation mode. February’s precipitation was only 36 per cent of normal causing the reservoir level to be about 1.5 metres below average for this time of year. So far, the beginning of March has been the driest it’s been in 40 years.

This is following a wet January that brought the reservoir up to a high of 134.3 metres, necessitating flood risk management operations. The reservoir is currently at 131.8 metres.

RELATED: Drought fears high, Cowichan Lake already at August lows

The Puntledge River system isn’t the only system on the Island suffering from a “winter drought.” Watson says all Vancouver Island watersheds are in the same boat, as well as some on the mainland.

“I wouldn’t say it’s rare that at this time of year we’re generating at a less amount, but what’s different is how things have changed,” Watson said. “Coming from mid-January, basically the fall into the early winter was wet and mild as everyone knows but it just really shifted to cold weather beginning of February.”

In mid-February, they dropped their power generation down to 40 per cent of capacity – around 9 megawatts – and more recently, it dropped even further to one-third of capacity – around 7 megawatts.

The amount of water being released from the Comox Dam has also dropped, only allowing enough water to flow to keep the fish habitat sufficiently covered.

“The challenge is that it could be tough as it goes through the spring and in particular towards the late summer in terms of conserving water for all the various water use interests,” said Watson.

However, Watson is still hopeful for more rain into the beginning of spring to get water levels higher.

Just Posted

Vancouver Island trail users at high risk of crashes without reflective clothing

Early nightfall adds new layer of risk for pedestrians and cyclists

‘Your vehicle burns a lot of fuel:’ Victoria drivers wake up to angry notes

‘This handbill was left on your vehicle because your vehicle burns a lot of fuel,’ notes read

Qualicum Beach author remembers wartime in London

Book ‘Children at War’ takes readers back to Second World War

Port Alberni’s veterans: then and now

Eight veterans are portrayed in their wartime photographs and as they are in 2019

Editorial: Lest we forget

There are some words and phrases, once very common, that our younger… Continue reading

VIDEO: Hong Kong police shoot protester, man set on fire

It was the second protester shot since the demonstrations began in early June

Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Don Cherry had said immigrants don’t wear poppies like other Canadians do

Trudeau’s new cabinet: Gender parity because it’s 2019? Or due to competence?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon appoint his new cabinet

Canada among three G20 countries least likely to hit emissions targets

It says Canada, South Korea and Australia are the farthest off

Conservatives’ Scheer wants Trudeau to open Parliament Nov. 25

That’s five days after Justin Trudeau is scheduled to swear in a new cabinet

Last remaining Centurion tank from the Korean War makes its journey ‘home’ to B.C.

Tank arrives in B.C. the day before Remembrance Day after a more than 4,500-kilometre transfer

Canadians mark Remembrance Day this morning

This year exactly 101 years to the day after the end of the First World War

Carbon monoxide poisoning incident brings dangers of the gas to light

Island community adult and child go to hospital for treatment

UPDATED: Stuck barge to spend another night after running aground near Campbell River

Nana Provider crashed into shoreline south of Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island

Most Read