The Comox Valley Regional District is lifting Stage 3 water restrictions Friday, and Stage 2 restrictions will be reinstated until further notice due to a moderate increase in water flow in the Puntledge River.
Stage 2 restrictions do not allow for washing sidewalks, driveways or parking lots, but do allow for washing vehicles with a hand-held container or a hand-held hose equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
People living at an even numbered address can use a sprinkler to water a lawn on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
People living at an odd numbered address can use a sprinkler to water a lawn on Wednesdays and Sundays from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson said while water has been scarce all summer, the moderate rain two weeks ago may have helped get through the extreme weather situation.
“For the month of August, the average water inflow into the Puntledge River system was about five cubic metres per second (m3/s), compared to historical average of about 13 m3/s. BC Hydro has been able to provide about 7.5-8 m3/s down the Puntledge River for fish habitat,” he explained in a press release.
“The Comox Lake reservoir is currently at about 133 metres and that’s about two metres away from where we become concerned about providing suitable water discharges downstream. It hit a low of 132.8 metres towards the end of August.”
The Puntledge River hydroelectric facilities will be returned from regular maintenance on Sept. 17, he added.
“On that day, BC Hydro will increase the river flow from a minimum of 7.5 m3/s up to 11 m3/s. This is still well below our water licence fish habitat minimum flow of nearly 16 m3/s. The slight increase, however, will assist migrating and spawning salmon.”
Watson noted BC Hydro has public safety awareness protocols for river flow rates year-round, with a particular emphasis from May to September when recreation use is at its highest. With the generating station remaining out of service, all the river flow will pass below the division dam and down past the Barber’s Hole, Nymph Falls and Stotan Falls areas.
Throughout the five kilometre stretch of the Puntledge River, BC Hydro advises the public to be cautious from Sept. 17 to the end of September.
“We will continue to conserve water through October as needed. On Oct. 1, BC Hydro is hopeful of increasing the river flow to 14 m3/s to further assist salmon and also bring the 24 megawatt powerhouse online, although only at 20 per cent of capacity. This is subject to water conditions and weather forecasts,” said Watson.