Puntledge tubers can expect higher river flow rate this summer

File photo of tubing on the Puntledge River. The flow rate will be higher than the last four summers given the better water supply conditions.

File photo of tubing on the Puntledge River. The flow rate will be higher than the last four summers given the better water supply conditions.

After seeing precipitation since April to date that’s just over 200 per cent of normal, and the much improved water supply conditions, the reservoir and the Puntledge River conditions will be in a better place this summer. Our June to September water supply forecast is for water inflows to be about 142 per cent of normal. The overall February to September water supply forecast, as of June, is to be about 103 per cent or normal.

In June we provided Puntledge River flows of up to 90 cubic metres per second (m3/s) given the rain and snowmelt. There were five days of ideal kayaking conditions that drew more than 25 kayakers per day. BC Hyrdo also provided increased flows on June 24 for Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s summer and fall Chinook smolt release from the hatchery to give them a boost in their out-migration to the ocean.

The previous four summers have been challenging to maintain fish flows down the Puntledge given the drier conditions and water conservation efforts, though this year, the reservoir level and river flow will be in a better place. The river flow looks to stay above minimum fish habitat flows, or generally a level that keeps the riverbed fully covered with water.

The current release from the Comox Dam is about 32 m3/s and this will slowly decline during July as inflows decline. The Puntledge powerhouse is running at full capacity. There may be times in July and August when flows may increase slightly beyond that rate depending on the rate of snowmelt. Temporary public safety signage will be posted along the river as required. Puntledge flows may reduce in late July or early August down to about 20 m3/s. The minimum fish habitat flow rate is 15.7 m3/s. River flows in September will depend on weather.

BC Hydro is in the middle of a series of summer chinook migration and spawning flows so they can move upstream of natural river obstacles and move through the fish ladders at the dams. The pulse flows are occurring each Tuesday and Wednesday, concluding July 13. BC Hydro will have safety signage along the Barber’s Hole and Nymph Falls sections of the river to be cautious when migration flows are in place.

The Comox Lake Reservoir is at 134.8 metres above sea level. The reservoir is considered full at 135.3 metres, and as a low, can reach about 131 metres. The reservoir is planned to be full in July.

With warm weather finally arriving, we are providing a notice to tubers that the river flow rate this summer will be higher than the last four summers given the better water supply conditions.

BCHydroCourtenay