BC Hydro urging caution around fast flowing Puntledge River in Courtenay

BC Hydro urging caution around fast flowing Puntledge River in Courtenay

WATCH: Damage at the Puntledge River Generating Station is resulting in higher river flows on a five-kilometre stretch through June 1. 

A large stretch of the Puntledge River upriver from Stotan Falls is running higher than normal this week.

“The Stotan Falls area typically this time of year is around six cubic metres a second. It’s around 40 today. It will drop to 15, so up to seven times the typical flow rate,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson.

It’s believed a piece of wood like a tree branch got stuck in a penstock that feeds water to the turbines at the Puntledge River Generating Station. A gate was damaged so now water that would normally flow through the penstocks is being sent down the river instead, resulting in the high flows.

“So right now we have higher flows going down [the] Barber’s Hole, Nymph Falls, Stotan Falls section of the river because we need to bypass that water flow that’s intended for the powerhouse into the river and so we have a flow advisory for people to have caution in that section of the river through to June 1,” added Watson.

The roaring river was a treat for visitors to see Tuesday.

“We always like hiking beside rivers and waterfalls so we read about it, Nymph Falls on Trip Advisor,” said Bill Watson from Calgary. “It said it’s a great place to walk dogs and go see waterfalls, we love it.”

The water will get even faster this weekend for the annual Paddlefest when the water flows will be increased to 110 cubic metres a second.

“We get about 150 kayakers from BC and beyond who descend on the Comox Valley to take advantage of ideal kayaking conditions so there’s a widespread advisory to stay away from the Puntledge River on the weekend unless you’re part of that event.” said Watson.

Watson says there’s still plenty of snowmelt in the mountains, so after Paddlefest and after the damage has been fixed at the generating station, the Comox Lake reservoir will be able to top up ahead of the summer dry season.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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