Officials warn residents to stay off of Puntledge River due to high water flows

Officials warn residents to stay off of Puntledge River due to high water flows

Upstream of the Comox dam. Credit: Stephen Watson/BC Hydro

BC Hydro is telling residents not to go into the Puntledge River due to rising water levels and planned water releases.

According to Stephen Watson, spokesman with BC Hydro, the water level has increased due to an increase in the snowmelt off the mountain following the recent warm weather. BC Hydro has been releasing water from the Comox dam to keep the water flow open, but levels have stayed high in the river system.

“We’re very close to having the water spill through the dam,” Watson said, adding that it’s about 10 centimetres away from spilling over.

BC Hydro also said, from October 2016 to September 2017, they are recording the second highest water inflow year in the last 49 years in the Puntledge River system. The excess water is from the storms in October and November.

Until June 5, people are advised to not go into the river. However, Watson said people can expect to see high water until about July.

“There’s no downstream flood risk,” Watson said.

“But we want to manage the river system for public safety.”

The area is popular for sports and recreation, Watson said. He said there have been 500 people on the river at one time and tubing is a popular pastime.

“River hydraulics are dangerous at these rates,” Watson said.

He also said people can become injured from the wood debris at the side of the river.

The Campbell River system also has an abundance of water due to snowmelt. Reservoir levels are almost full and the river flow is higher than the fisheries target for this time of year. The high water conditions are expected to last until early July.

The water flow at Stotan Falls on the Puntledge River system. Credit: Stephen Watson / BC Hydro.

Campbell River on May 31. Credit: Stephen Watson / BC Hydro

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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