For the first time this year, BC Hydro briefly released water over the Revelstoke Dam spillway on May 6.
The release was a small volume of water, roughly 170 cubic meters per second. According to a post on the Revelstoke Community Facebook Page, an alarm was sounded notifying people nearby of the release at roughly 8 a.m.
Jen Walker-Larsen, spokesperson, said spillway releases are common during the spring when water is plentiful and there is reduced demand for electricity.
The company said they use spill releases to maintain the minimum fish flow required downstream from the dam during low demand periods when it’s less economic to generate power from the generating units.
Walker-Larsen said usually the small spill releases occur overnight.
She continued the decision for these small spills is typically made an hour or so before it starts, so BC Hydro is unable to provide advance notification.
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However, the company has said previously it will notify the public during high volume releases, such as is did in 2012.
According to BC Hydro, the reservoir behind the Revelstoke Dam can have daily fluctuations of 1.5 metres. At most times, the reservoir is maintained at or above 571.5 metres depth.
The Kinbasket Reservoir, which flows into Revelstoke Reservoir did not fully refill to its normal full pool levels in 2019 due to below average snowpack, reaching a peak water level for the year of 752.2 metres on Sept. 27, 2019. This level was 6.27 metres below normal.
However, due to a wet winter and prolonged cooler and drier conditions this April, inflow levels for Kinbasket is expected to be almost 10 per cent higher than average.
BC Hydro said depending on the upcoming rate of snowmelt and rainfall, it’s possible the company might store additional water in Kinbasket and raise the water level up to 30 cm above its normal levels.
Walker-Larsen said it’s still too early to know if there will be larger spill released this year from the Revelstoke Dam as it will depend on snowmelt rate and rain in combination with the company’s need to generate electricity.
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