Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Water levels at two key eastern B.C. dams below normal for second year straight

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Water levels at two large dams in eastern B.C. are sitting at below normal for the second year in a row.

According to B.C. Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley, water levels at the Williston reservoir in northeast B.C. and the Kinbasket reservoir in the southeast are several metres below normal.

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The latest B.C. Hydro figures show the water level at Mica Dam on the Kinbasket reservoir is at 729.7 metres, close to three metres below normal for February.

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The peak level at Mica Dam is 754.44 metres. The dam, north of Revelstoke, is the tallest in Canada and was built under the Columbia River Treaty.

Mica Dam at the northern end of Kinbasket reservoir north of Revelstoke.
Mica Dam at the northern end of Kinbasket reservoir north of Revelstoke. Handout

As of February 2024, the water level at the Williston Reservoir at WAC Bennett Dam is at 661.6 metres, which is 1.6 metres lower than the February average.

B.C.’s reservoir system in eastern B.C. was affected by drought conditions in the northeast and by low snowpack in the southeast in 2023.

According to the B.C. Drought Information Portal, the Prince George region was in Drought Level 5 in fall of 2023 (the most severe). The portal will be updated in spring.

The most recent Snow Conditions and Water Supply Bulletin reports the provincial snowpack is extremely low, averaging 44 per cent below normal across B.C.

Low water levels over the past year turned B.C. Hydro from a power exporter ($1 billion in 2022) to a power importer ($500 million in 2023).

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With files from Derrick Penner

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