BC Hydro will be testing the sirens along the Puntledge River on May 7 and May 9.
Whether planned or unplanned, quick river flow adjustments can be a public safety hazard, so the BC Hydro warning sirens placed along the river from the Comox Dam to Puntledge Park must initiate.
Permanent river safety signage is in place, but the siren system provides notice of a real-time flow event and for people to move out of the river. The water flow siren system test is done once a year.
BC Hydro will be manually testing the siren system on May 7, from approximately 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., prior to the actual river flow tests on May 9.
“On May 9, we advise the public to stay out of the Puntledge River given the flow tests and the siren activations that will be taking place,” said Stephen Watson, of BC Hydro. “Temporary caution and danger safety signage will be placed along the river from Comox Dam to Condensory Bridge. BC Hydro staff will also be along the river to monitor the warning system. Depending on the test results on May 7, there is a chance a few sirens may be modified and briefly tested again on May 8.
The current discharge from the Comox Dam is about 20 cubic metres per second (m3/s). At various times on May 9 the Puntledge River flow will increase to 27 m3/s and hit a brief peak of about 50 m3/s.
“We know people enjoy the Puntledge River yet this test is also a reminder that this is a hydroelectric system where river flows may change quickly,” said Watson. “With the warmer weather, people will begin to gravitate to water to cool off and enjoy the summer. About 500 people have been counted throughout the Puntledge River system at one time.”