Despite early season high inflows from melted snow-packs, B.C. Hydro reports there’s no need for concern in regards to Columbia Basin water levels.
High temperatures in May caused snow-packs to melt earlier and quicker than average in the region. Early reports of high water runoff along with incidents in other B.C. areas, such as the flooding in Grand Forks, raised concerns of similar incidents in the region.
However, B.C. Hydro operations planning engineer Gillian Kong says there is no need for concern.
“A few weeks ago if you asked me, there was potential, but we’ve seen the runoff reach its peak and it’s receding very very quickly,” said Kong during an open house hosted by B.C. Hydro on June 7. “And it’s not just a one river system, but everywhere in the Columbian Basin, water flows are receding and the snowpack is really quite much lower than when we first started. So I don’t think there really is any need for concerns.”
Kong says that despite an early peak in water levels at the Arrow Lakes Reservoir, recorded water levels are following a similar pattern to the average trend from previous seasons.
Going forward, Kong said the sustainability of water levels will be dependant on weather patterns and rainfall, as snowpack has melted at a faster rate than average.
“Instead of a gradual runoff like we usually see, we saw a peak in flows and much more compressed. So the volumes will affect the future volumes in the summer period,” explained Kong. “If we don’t get the rainfall and we get into much drier conditions, then the water levels — you can expect them to be lower. That’s just mother nature doing her work and there’s not much we can do about it.”
At this point, however, Kong said water levels are consistent and allow for full utilization at Arrow Lakes.
“It does look fare-able from recreation perspective. And that’s water-based as well as land based recreation at Arrow, and I think we’re still within that target preferred operation ranges.” said Kong. “So there’s nothing that we need to be doing specifically to support higher levels.”
The open house also included further information on the Revelstoke Generating Station Unit 6 Project.
Though not planned for completion for another eight years, B.C. Hydro stakeholder engagement advisor Jen Walker-Larsen said early approvals are in the process in case needs change.
“We don’t think we’re going to need it until 2026, but we’re getting approvals now just in case we need it sooner,” said Walker-Larsen. “It provides a lot of capacity, so it’s a good project that way. And most of the investment’s already been made because you’re just putting a unit in an existing framework, so it’s cost effective.”
The project is expected to create 436 person years of employment and add approximately 500 megawatts of capacity to the dam.
Revelstoke Unit 6 will complete the Revelstoke Dam, which was initially built in 1984 with four generators and room for two more. The fifth generator was completed in 2010, leaving just the sixth spot to be filled.