BC Hydro, Puntledge River update: Continued higher flows through Sunday

February 9, 2018

Update, Friday February 9, from BC Hydro:

With the inflows still being a bit high and the reservoir level still hovering near the upper range, we have extended our public safety advisory to please stay away from the Puntledge River through to Sunday. The safety advisory is now extended for the entire river system, and not just the Nymph Falls and Stotan Falls section of the river.

The Comox Lake reservoir is now at 134.4 metres. With the forecast looking drier and the water release from the dam being about twice the normal rate over the next three days, the reservoir level will move downward. We would like to see it closer to around 134 metres for flood risk management abilities. The powerhouse came back online on Thursday and is running at full capacity after the cleaning of the fish screens in the penstock to ensure better efficiency of screening small out-migrating fish back into the river. We are now releasing more water to control the reservoir level. The water release from Comox dam may adjust from about 55 to 70 m3/s through Sunday.

Previously, Monday February 5, from BC Hydro:

This is the time of year we shut down the generating station for three days to clean the fish screens inside the penstock. The work will take place Tuesday through Thursday this week. As we are also seeing a bit more water coming into the Comox Lake reservoir, we will also provide a little extra flow down the river during the station shutdown.

The fish screens inside the penstock or pipe, which leads to the generating station, are designed to screen the out-migrating salmon that may enter it back into the river and not pass through the generating station. The fish screens are cleaned at key times of the year, particularly around the peak migration, to help with the fish screen efficiency. 

The water release from the Comox dam down the Puntledge River is currently about 40 m3/s. The water flow will increase slightly to around 45 m3/s on Tuesday through Thursday. With the penstock and generating station going out of service for three days, all the water will be passed below the Puntledge diversion dam and past Nymph Falls and Stotan Falls. Between the diversion dam and the generating station, about a 5 km stretch of the river, we ask the public to stay away from the river with the higher flow conditions. The other areas of the Puntledge River have no high flow safety notices in place given the flow rate is in line with typical flows for this time of year.

Once the penstock and generating station are back in service by Friday morning, and running at full capacity, the water release from the Comox dam will remain around 40-45 m3/s, though the Nymph Falls and Stotan Falls area of the river will go back to seasonal flow rates and therefore end the public safety advisory.

The Comox Lake reservoir has been slowly rising and is currently at 134.3 metres. We prefer the level to not go above 134.4 metres at this time of year.