News release

BC Hydro prepares for high water in the Columbia basin

COLUMBIA BASIN: BC Hydro is preparing for a potential high water year in the Columbia, which could require storing additional water in both Kinbasket Reservoir and Arrow Lakes Reservoir for flood control. For the Columbia and Kootenay facilities, slow snowmelt and dry summer weather could mean business as usual for the Columbia and Kootenay facilities; however, rapid snowmelt and heavy rainfalls could mean spill releases and above normal reservoir levels through the summer and fall.

At this time, snowpack levels on both the Canada and U.S. side of the border are higher than average. And with the cooler, wet weather this spring, snow is still accumulating at higher elevations. High snowpack and above-average spring rainfall means that runoff forecasts for the Columbia basin have continued to increase with each forecast update. The current runoff forecast for the Columbia basin (Canada and U.S. combined) is 130 per cent of normal (from April to September).

This is creeping closer to the last big water year in 2012 when the run-off was 135 per cent of average, higher than in any year since construction of the Columbia River Treaty dams. In 2012, BC Hydro closely coordinated the operation of Kootenay and Columbia facilities with the U.S. and other partners to successfully maintain downstream river flows well below peak flows experienced prior to dam construction. Flood operations in 2012 involved spill releases from Revelstoke Dam and extra water stored in Arrow Lakes, Kinbasket and Duncan Reservoirs.

Just like the weather, long-term forecasting is inherently uncertain due to the unpredictability of future events. Reservoir levels will depend on actual runoff volumes and patterns, system electricity demands, any upstream storage operations and Columbia River Treaty discharge requirements.

BC Hydro hydrologists, engineers and dam safety professionals will continue to closely monitor conditions. BC Hydro has a toll-free reservoir information line 1 877 924 2444 that provides up-to-date reservoir elevation and river flow information.

To learn more or to talk directly to BC Hydro operations staff, visit BC Hydro's annual operations update meeting in the following Koocanusa, Columbia, and Kootenay communities.


Community Date Time Details
Baynes Lake May 17 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Baynes Lake Community Hall, 468 Jaffray Baynes Lake Road
Castlegar June 19 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Castlegar & District Community Complex, 2101 - 6th Avenue
Meadow Creek
June 20
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Lardeau Valley Community Club, 13429 Highway 31
Nakusp June 21 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Nakusp Senior's Hall, 210 - 8th Avenue NW
Revelstoke June 22
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Revelstoke Community Centre, 600 Campbell Avenue
Golden June 23
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Golden Council Chambers, 810 9th Avenue S
Valemount June 27 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Conference call: email to register