Puntledge River Generating Station in the Comox Valley. Stage 3 water restrictions will start Monday in the Comox Valley Water System because of unplanned repairs to the B.C. Hydro penstock.

Puntledge River Generating Station in the Comox Valley. Stage 3 water restrictions will start Monday in the Comox Valley Water System because of unplanned repairs to the B.C. Hydro penstock.

Stage three water restrictions will begin Monday for Comox Valley residents as B.C. Hydro works on unplanned repairs to the penstock that feeds water to the Puntledge River Generating Station.

The restriction will last for five days and applies to Comox and Courtenay, along with the Sandwick, Arden, Comox Valley, England Road, Marsden/Camco and Greaves Crescent water service areas.

B.C. Hydro will be draining the penstock after damage caused by what is believed to be a piece of wood, like a tree branch, got stuck in the penstocks.

A gate was damaged allowing water that would normally flow through the generating station’s turbines to be sent down the river instead, which has resulted in high flows.

Residents will not be allowed to water lawns or pressure wash driveways and boulevards, fill a  swimming pool, hot tub or garden pond or wash vehicles.

The regional district says during stage three restrictions, you can:

  • Water trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables on any day between the hours of 6 am and 8 am and 8 pm to 10 pm if watering is done by hand-held container or a hand-held hose equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
  • Water newly planted trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables by hand-held container or a hand-held hose equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle during installation and at any time during the following 24 hours after installation is completed.
  • Use micro-irrigation or drip-irrigation systems to water trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables on any day between the hours of 6 am to 8 am and 8 pm to 10 pm.
  • Water all-weather playing fields at any time, but only if failure to do so will result in a permanent loss of plant material.
  • Use water to wash sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, exterior windows, or exterior building surfaces, but ONLY IF NECESSARY for applying a product such as paint, preservative, and stucco, preparing a surface prior to paving or repointing bricks, or if required by law to comply with health or safety regulations.
The regional district is using the emergency backup pump station to draw water from the Puntledge River, which needs the stage three restrictions to meet peak demand for water use.

“B.C. Hydro’s Penstock supplies water to Comox Valley residents for domestic use,” district water manager Mike Herschmiller said.

“Whenever the Penstock is drained we rely on our emergency standby system, which requires that we implement water restrictions to ensure there is enough water available for domestic needs as well as fire protection.”

B.C. Hydro will increase water flow down the Puntledge River for the annual Puntledge Paddle Festival this weekend, which is timed with the high snowmelt period.

The district says the need for stage three restrictions is not linked to the event.

Andy Neal