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BC Hydro to slow Puntledge River flows for long weekend

After many days of high water-flow rates in the Puntledge River, BC Hydro will be easing off to keep river users safe over part the long weekend.

Stakeholder engagement advisor Stephen Watson says for the last while, the river has been flowing at triple the flow rate for this time of year due to snow melt at around 90 m3/s. This prompted a public safety announcement that ends today.

Watson adds they will be dropping the flow rate for a few days to around 35 m3/s for Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the busy weekend nears.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to find a balance of high snowmelt, having the reservoir full to manage the summer, and at the same time manage the expectation that this is an amazing recreational amenity in the Comox Valley,” said Watson.

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However, Watson adds that over those three days the reservoir level could increase due to the high snowmelt. BC Hydro will issue another public safety announcement starting Monday and will go until May 26 as they plan to triple water flows again.

“In some ways, it’s a shame that it’s melting so quickly. We’d like to see the snow melt over a period of time well into the summer,” said Watson. “In this case it’s coming in fast, and we need to release a lot of it down stream.”

Watson says that the river flow will be safe from Friday to Sunday. However, he adds you should be aware of “sweepers” or woody debris along the edge of the river.

“The last thing we want to see is search and rescue need to perform a rescue,” said Watson.

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