BC Hydro is in full conservation mode at its Vancouver Island dams


WATCH: BC Hydro is sounding the alarm about the cold and dry conditions on central Vancouver Island. Since Feb. 1 the utility says its seen the lowest water inflows in Comox Lake in 50 years. And there’s also a similar situation in Campbell River. Kendall Hanson reports.

With few clouds in the sky, it’s a crisp clear winter day overlooking Comox Lake.

It’s the exact weather B.C. Hydro would rather not see right now.

“We’d love to see some nice rain storms dropping rain mid-elevation and a bunch of snowpack continuing to accumulate until the end of April,” said Stephen Watson of B.C. Hydro.

The utility says it’s in full conservation mode as it holds back water at its Comox Dam.

It’s releasing water at a similar rate as to what it normally would in late summer.

It follows the lowest water inflows B.C. Hydro has seen behind its Vancouver Island dams because of the dry cold weather in the region.

“Our records go back 50 odd years and we’ve never seen a February quite like this both on Puntledge and Campbell River and also on the Ash River system in Port Alberni,” said Watson.

It’s a similar situation those watching the Cowichan River system are worried about.

On Tuesday they warned Lake Cowichan is only 40 per cent full when normally it’s close to being near capacity at this time of year.

“It’s very unusual for us to see the river and the lake this low at this time of year,” said Parker Jefferson, of the Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable. “Normally we’d expect to see the lake at this level in August so yes it’s very concerning.”

B.C. Hydro is warning the current dry spell could be a taste of what to expect this summer.

“It’s just a heads up for folks that we’re looking at low water conditions come the summertime,” said Watson. “We know things can change on Vancouver Island but for summer recreation on the reservoirs and fish habitat flows the water bund looks fairly low.”

It’s resulted in less electricity creation at the dams. B.C. Hydro has been working the John Hart Dam a little more to meet customer demand but it says even that has a limit in these dry conditions.

Temperatures are predicted to return to closer to average temperatures but some sustained precipitation would ease the worries of those managing Vancouver Island’s dams and weirs.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!