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BC Hydro issues Puntledge River flow safety warning as inflows improve

The runoff from the spring melt combined with rain is filling the Puntledge River to the point that BC Hydro has issued a public safety notice for the high flow rate.

This comes after the lowest inflows in the last 60 were recorded in March at 36 per cent. Precipitation was also 84 per cent of normal in February and 46 per cent of normal in March, according to BC Hydro stakeholder engagement advisor Stephen Watson.

The dry trend continued into early April, however, moderate storms came in one after another through the back half of the month and resulted in the second wettest April on record.

Watson says precipitation was about 200 per cent normal and with temperatures increasing, snowmelt means good inflows are now being recorded into Comox Lake.

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Watson says the Comox Lake Reservoir runs between 131 metres above sea-level to about 135.3 metres. It hit a low of 132.8 metres on April 6 and has risen to 134.6 metres.

“Our goal each summer is to have the Comox Lake Reservoir full by the time all of the snow has melted, usually by late June or early July. That will not be a problem this summer,” said Watson.

“After that we will then conserve water to manage the system as we move into the summer and fall based on the weather conditions.”

To control the reservoir, Watson says they will triple water discharge from the Comox Dam to about 90 or 110 cubic metres per second tonight.

“We are targeting a flow rate that controls the reservoir level and also benefits a water use interest – kayakers,” said Watson. “Only expert kayakers will be able to take advantage of the water abundance.”

Watson asks the public to stay away from the Puntledge River from tonight (Thursday) until May 14 as river flows will be fast and dangerous. Safety signage will be in place Thursday evening, and the number of higher water releases from the dam will depend on the amount of snowmelt.

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