The Comox Lake reservoir has been below normal most of the winter, during which BC Hydro has held conservation river flows to protect fish habitat in the Puntledge River.
The amount of water coming into the reservoir from mid-December to mid-March was only 53 per cent of normal. The term ‘winter drought’ would be appropriate as what rain did fall, essentially fell as snow, said communications officer Stephen Watson.
A recent warm spell began a bit of snowmelt and the reservoir responded by moving up about 10 centimetres per day. The reservoir level is now what Hydro considers about half full. Recent storm activity was expected to add to the water level increases.
By May and June, when water abundance is not a concern, the reservoir should be full, watson indicated. BC Hydro often spills water at that time because there is too much. This is why it has the two-day Puntledge Paddle Festival at the end of May.
The September to October timeframe is more of a concern.
The snowpack is currently a bit below normal. Should it be a dry summer, it could be challenging towards the end of the summer and early fall, Watson said.
However, snowpack normally peaks around the end of April, which could mean further snow accumulation. If summer is normal or on the wet side, there would be no concern about reservoir levels.
BC Hydro is always monitoring near- and short-term forecasts, and will adjust operations accordingly.