Drought conditions challenging on B.C.’s south coast, but fish protected: BC Hydro

BC Hydro has been taking proactive steps at many of its south coast reservoirs for months as it protects fish habitats downstream from its dams.

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A new report from BC Hydro says its power generating system is meeting challenges caused by severe drought in several British Columbia regions, even as levels in some southwestern reservoirs are at or near record-breaking lows.

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The B.C. government’s five-level drought map shows sections of Vancouver Island and the inner south coast are at the highest ranking, meaning it is almost certain that drought in those regions will adversely affect everything from jobs to ecosystems.

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BC Hydro, the Crown corporation that generates and delivers electricity to 95 per cent of B.C.’s population, says it has been taking proactive steps at many of its south coast reservoirs for months as it protects fish habitats downstream from its dams.

The hydro report says by managing releases from reservoirs, it has safeguarded downstream water flows and protected salmon runs, even as unregulated rivers and streams have dried up, leading to significant fish kills.

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The report notes Hydro’s smaller waterways on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island are under pressure due to drought, but there is no concern about continued power delivery because the utility’s integrated system sends electricity across the province, including to Vancouver Island.

Long-range forecasts show a chance of rain across the south coast starting late next week but Hydro says if that doesn’t happen, it will continue to closely track weather and other conditions, and adapt its operations to protect fish.

“Unpredictable weather patterns related to climate change are expected to continue in the years ahead and BC Hydro is constantly adapting to these evolving conditions,” the utility says in a news release.

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It says its power grid is designed to perform safely across a wide range of conditions and extreme events.

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