BC Hydro will release higher volumes of water down the Puntledge River on May 27. Black Press file photo

High water release coming to Puntledge River: BC Hydro

BC Hydro will release higher volumes of water down the Puntledge River on May 27.

  • May. 21, 2020 11:30 a.m.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will soon be releasing their Chinook smolts from the Puntledge River Hatchery to then have them migrate out to the ocean.

To assist the smolts in moving downstream, BC Hydro will release higher volumes of water down the Puntledge River on May 27 to give the smolts a better success rate in migrating past seals in the lower river.

BC Hydro is issuing a public safety warning for people to keep away from the riverbanks of the Puntledge River on Wednesday. Temporary safety signage will be placed along the river.

About 1.9 million fall Chinooks and about 265,000 summer Chinooks, as well as about 100,00 Coho yearlings, will be released during this event.

The Comox Lake Reservoir is nearly full with the warmer weather and snowmelt. BC Hydro plans to have the reservoir full by early June and then manage through the summer and early fall.

Beginning Tuesday night, water flows from the Comox Dam will increase from about 35 m3/s to about 50 m3/s. With the downstream Browns River adding inflow, the target Puntledge River flow of about 60 m3/s past the hatchery will hold for 24 hours.

It is approaching the time of year for adult summer Chinook to begin migrating up the river system. That means we will begin our adult migration flows to enable them to move up the five-kilometer stretch of the Puntledge River from the generating station to the Puntledge River Diversion Dam, and ultimately through a fish ladder at the Comox Dam and into the Comox Lake Reservoir and beyond.

There will be five, two-day releases, starting June 11 and 12, and then taking place each Thursday and Friday until July 10.

Starting June 11 on each Thursday and Friday, there will be a public safety advisory in place for the Barber’s Hole, Nymph Falls and Stotan Falls stretch of the river as flows will be more than double the normal.

River flows at these locations will go from about six m3/s to about 12 m3/s, but can be as high as 17 m3/s. Temporary safety signage will also be in place.

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