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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Vancouver Island Indigenous leaders supportive of B.C.’s new plan for old forest preservation

More than 260,000 hectares in Clayoquot Sound mapped for immediate old growth harvesting deferral

HISTORY COLUMN: Reflecting on the 32nd anniversary of Canada’s apology to Japanese-Canadians

Japanese-Canadians an integral part of Tofino and Ucluelet’s history.

Extravagant marriage proposal in Ucluelet

“It was such a dream. He brought a dream to life. No one does this anymore.”

Missing mushroom picker found “alive and well” after three-day search in Ucluelet

“It’s always great to have a positive outcome like this.”

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read