Puntledge River siren, strobe alarm system to be tested this week

BC Hydro scheduling flow changes in river to test warning systems

BC Hydro will testing its siren system Tuesday, May 15 and Wednesday, May 16, including and actual water flow test in the Puntledge River on May 16.

BC Hydro warning sirens placed along the river from the Comox Dam to Puntledge Park should initiate during these flows tests. Permanent river safety signage is in place, but the siren system provides the real-time flow event in advising people to get out of the river.

There will be manual testing of the siren system on May 15, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., prior to the actual flow tests on May 16.

The water flow test on May 16 will be conducts in such a fashion as to minimize impact on the fish stocks in the river.

The process on May 16 will involve first ramping down the generating station, before a subsequent quick-pulse release, which should activate the sirens along the riverway.

For the last part of the testing, the flow out of the generating station will be increased quite rapidly to test the siren just downstream of the station.

Unlike other system tests when the sirens are initiated individually, this test is to determine that they work as anticipated during an actual river flow change.

“We have made numerous changes to the system, including a new siren sound that’s a slow whooping sound that’s becoming the standard sound for all hydroelectric utilities across Canada,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson. “The strobe lights, angled down or up the river corridor, are to initiate and are intended for night-time warnings. The water low test is done once a year.

The normal discharge from the Comox Dam is about 32 m3/s. At various times on May 16 the flow release will drop down to 20 m3/s and hit a peak of about 40 m3/s.

The public is advised that on May 15 and 16 you will hear the siren sounds and to not enter the Puntledge River until after 4 p.m. Temporary caution and danger safety signage will placed along the river from Comox Dam to Condensory Bridge. Staff will also be along the river to monitor the warning system.

The water flow test on May 16 will be conducted in such a fashion as to minimize impact on the fish stocks in the river.

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