Water release increased from Comox Lake into Puntledge River

Wet weather has finally arrived in the Comox Valley, where fishing has been temporarily banned in the highest-profile local river.

Wet weather has finally arrived in the Comox Valley, where fishing has been temporarily banned in the highest-profile local river due to low water levels.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has closed fishing until Oct. 31 in the Puntledge and Courtenay rivers.

Weekend rain resulted in a “little bump in fish” though levels are still below the escapement target, Darcy Miller, watershed enhancement manager at the Puntledge River Hatchery, said Monday. Hatchery staff will sort through fish and conduct river swims to assess the situation.

“If all the conditions line up, we hopefully would be able to open the river earlier but I can’t say for certain at this point,” said Miller, who planned to speak with the local sport fish group and the fishery officer. “Hopefully the numbers come together, the river conditions come together and we can provide (fishing) opportunities.”

BC Hydro — after seeing a modest increase in water inflows into the Comox Lake reservoir and considering a few minor storm systems in the immediate forecast — planned to increase the Puntledge flow Tuesday. The flow was to increase from 11.3 to about 18 cubic metres per second (m3/s), marking a 50-per-cent increase. The river flow would then be within normal ranges for this time of year to benefit fish trying to spawn.

BC Hydro would like to release about 32 m3/s below the dam and have the Puntledge generating station running at full capacity, but the Comox Lake reservoir is still too low.

The reservoir had levelled at 132 metres Monday from the approximately 25-centimetre increase over the weekend. The 131-metre level is considered critical.

With BC Hydro’s river flow increase and the weather forecast for the rest of the week, the reservoir should continue to hold near the 132-metre range, stephen watson of Hydro said in a news release.

Stage Two water restrictions continue to be in effect as the Comox Valley Regional District co-operates with BC Hydro’s water flow needs. The Valley water system normally shifts to Stage One this time of year, according to CVRD staff.

For more informations on water restrictions, or to stay on top of notifications of stage changes, visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/restrictions.

For more information of fishing restrictions, contact the Comox branch of the DFO at 250-339-7271.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com