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Hydro offering safety tips for Puntledge tubers

COURTENAY, B.C. – Tubing is one of the most popular summer activities for residents and visitors of the Comox Valley.

It’s a nice way to enjoy the sunshine, and get a thrill went the flows are fast along the river channel. However, if caution isn’t taken, injury can occur.

“BC Hydro has three facilities on the Puntledge River system. We have the Comox Dam, the Puntledge diversion dam and then at Powerhouse,” said Hydro’s Stephen Watson.

“We have signage and awareness, and a siren system to advise the public of river levels that may rise, whether through an unplanned event or an issue where river levels are rising, for people to move out of that river.”

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Watson said the channel is beautiful, and on a nice day, there can be upwards of 500 people on the river at one time.

“Up to about two-thousand people enter the Puntledge River in the peak of tubing season,” he said.

“Certainly, we enjoy the system but be aware that flows can change. In terms of this summer going forward, it looks to be a warmer and drier year, so that will put more people on the system.”

He said the utility is on “conservation mode”, running the Puntledge powerhouse at about 25 per cent of capacity, and that will most likely continue through the summer.

“The river levels are a little bit on the lower side for this time of year, but for people in and about, it doesn’t take much,” he said, discussing the hazards of not taking caution in the water.

“The river system is kind of a rock-bed situation, so you can get river hydraulics and pools in place that it doesn’t take much to slip and fall, even in six inches of water. Enjoy it, but please be cautious and aware of your surroundings.”

He said the best place to start your tubing adventure is below the fish hatchery, and then move downstream.

“You do not want to go upstream of that,” he said.

He noted that it’s also important to stay in the middle of the river and avoid “woody” debris that lines the tubing stream.

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