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BC Hydro to reduce flows in Puntledge River, Stage 3 water restrictions coming

A dry summer with the lowest inflows recorded in 60 years means BC Hydro will be further reducing flows to the Puntledge River next week.

According to senior stakeholder engagement advisor Stephen Watson, inflows into Comox Lake are around two to three m3/s and they have been letting about 11 to 12 m3/s into the Puntledge since early July.

However, with the ongoing drought conditions, Watson says they will be lowering the flow rate on Monday. He says the reservoir has been slowly lowering over the summer and is at 133.1 metres above sea level.

The reservoir usually fluctuates between 135.3 and 131 metres and when the reservoir falls below 131 metres like it did briefly last year, the flow rate becomes naturally restricted. Watson says that with the current conditions, they could hit 131 metres by the end of October.

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“By taking action now to reduce flows, the level may be around 132 metres by that time,” said Watson. “It gives us about one metre of extra storage.”

Flows will be reduced Sunday night into Monday morning to between eight and 8.5 m3/s and they will hold those levels until the fall rains hopefully return. Watson adds the Browns and Tsolum rivers are both only flowing at around 0.1 to 0.2 m3/s.

With the flow rate reduction, the Comox Valley Regional District says they will be implementing Stage 3 water restrictions on Monday.

The restrictions apply to Courtenay, Comox and the Comox Valley Water Local Service Area. They say no lawn watering is permitted at any time along with pressure washing driveways, filling swimming pools or garden ponds, and washing a vehicle or boat unless it is at a commercial car wash or dealership.

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“In order to keep a minimum flow down the river as we head into the fall, we need to do our part to reduce our impact as much as we can,” said manager of water services Mike Herschmiller.

“Thank you to the Comox Valley community for their conservation efforts to ensure there is enough water available for habitat, domestic needs and fire protection.”

You are allowed to water trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables on any day at any time only of watering is done by a handheld container, hose with automatic shut-off or micro irrigation systems.

More information about the restrictions can be found here. 

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