Comox Lake water level is only at 131.8 metres, 1.5 metres below average for this time of year. (Stephen Watson/Twitter)

Vancouver Island water system at 50-year low

“Winter drought” has Comox Lake/Puntledge River system in full conservation mode

Typically at this time of year, Vancouver Island river systems would be running at near-capacity.

But less precipitation and colder weather has resulted in low water evels and the lowest March water inflows from Comox Lake in 50 years.

According to Stephen Watson, stakeholder engagement advisor with BC Hydro, the Comox Lake/Puntledge River system is operating in full water conservation mode. February’s precipitation was only 36 per cent of normal causing the reservoir level to be about 1.5 metres below average for this time of year. So far, the beginning of March has been the driest it’s been in 40 years.

This is following a wet January that brought the reservoir up to a high of 134.3 metres, necessitating flood risk management operations. The reservoir is currently at 131.8 metres.

RELATED: Drought fears high, Cowichan Lake already at August lows

The Puntledge River system isn’t the only system on the Island suffering from a “winter drought.” Watson says all Vancouver Island watersheds are in the same boat, as well as some on the mainland.

“I wouldn’t say it’s rare that at this time of year we’re generating at a less amount, but what’s different is how things have changed,” Watson said. “Coming from mid-January, basically the fall into the early winter was wet and mild as everyone knows but it just really shifted to cold weather beginning of February.”

In mid-February, they dropped their power generation down to 40 per cent of capacity – around 9 megawatts – and more recently, it dropped even further to one-third of capacity – around 7 megawatts.

The amount of water being released from the Comox Dam has also dropped, only allowing enough water to flow to keep the fish habitat sufficiently covered.

“The challenge is that it could be tough as it goes through the spring and in particular towards the late summer in terms of conserving water for all the various water use interests,” said Watson.

However, Watson is still hopeful for more rain into the beginning of spring to get water levels higher.

Just Posted

Saanich man discovers hidden corners of city while cycling every street in Victoria

Cyclist maps progress while taking on 2019 goal to cover every street with road sign

Mainly cloudy skies ahead for Thursday

Plus a look ahead at the weekend

Proposed four-storey Victoria parkade offers zero spots for public use

A proposed parkade at 730-780 Summit Ave. will soon be up for discussion

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Victoria’s cocktail king releases book on best bartenders in Canada

Four bartenders from Kelowna and one from Penticton are recognzied in Great Northern Coocktails

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. set to announce changes around youth vaping, regulations

Move will involved education, tightening access, working with partners and pressuring the federal government

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Most Read