BC Hydro is now maintaining water releases from Revelstoke Dam at or above 142 cubic metres per second, the first time a minimum flow has been maintained at the dam.
Although the level was recommended by the 2007 Columbia River Water Use Plan, four years of data collection on the mid-Columbia river productivity are now being applied “in an effort to benefit fish and fish habitat.”
The minimum flow is expected to benefit a variety of fish species including mountain whitefish, burbot, rainbow trout, bull trout and white sturgeon.
As part of the water use plan (WUP) requirements, BC Hydro will continue monitoring productivity in the river for the next nine years with minimum water flows in place. This data will be compared with information collected during the past four years when minimum flows were not in place and not required by the WUP.
Through long-term monitoring, enough information can be analyzed to distinguish between the effects of the minimum flow and the effects of other factors that influence river productivity.
“The minimum flow is intended to benefit production in the river from the bottom to the top of the fish food chain by providing a minimum amount of continuously wetted river habitat,” said Karen Bray, BC Hydro natural resource specialist.
While the mid-Columbia River extends from the Revelstoke Dam south to Arrowhead, the benefits of the minimum flow are expected to be greatest in the upper reaches from the Revelstoke Dam to the Illecillewaet River.
The Columbia River Water Use Plan, approved in January 2007, has a 12-year implementation period and is now in its fifth year. The total expected cost of delivering BC Hydro’s projects and programs through the WUP over the full 12 years is $180 million.