Rio Tinto BC Works watching Nechako reservoir levels closely

Rio Tinto BC Works watching Nechako reservoir levels closely

Dropping water levels could threaten power generation operations

Rio Tinto BC Works says it is closely monitoring the levels of the Nechako reservoir that supplies the water for power generation at Kemano Powerhouse.

Spokesperson Kevin Dobbin said in the context of dropping levels of reservoirs across the province to record lows, the company is taking a proactive approach to mitigate the potential risks of low water levels and the impact it could have on BC Work’s operations.

“With almost 65 years of experience managing the Nechako reservoir the current data shows that Rio Tinto BC Works will be challenged to balance the diverse needs of the region due to the sustained very dry conditions. It is something we are monitoring very closely,” said Dobbin.

He said the company has been preparing alternative scenarios “in case there is a need to manage the power generation to ensure a healthy Nechako river and to protect employment in the Kitimat-Terrace region.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation as we prepare for a variety of scenarios,” said Dobbin.

READ MORE: The opposite side of the coin – Rio Tinto prepared for floods

BC Hydro spokesperson Kevin Aquino said while the company has a lot of experience managing reservoir levels in low water years, a dry summer had led to BC Hydro’s reservoirs dropping below normal levels.

“By October, our two biggest reservoirs – Williston on the Peace River and Kinbasket on the Columbia River – reached record seasonal lows. In fact, dry conditions in the Williston basin resulted in four consecutive months of low inflows, with September, October and November being the third, second and fourth lowest in 60 years,” said Aquino.

He said while generating enough electricity as a result of dropping reservoir levels in winter last year was difficult already, it was further challenged after the explosion of Enbridge’s natural gas transmission pipeline north of Prince George, on October 9, 2018.

To compensate for the loss in natural gas BC Hydro was further put under pressure to deliver more electricity to get the province through winter.

“We experienced a record-breaking cold February followed by the driest March on record in parts of B.C. This resulted in more electricity being used than forecasted, and less water remaining in BC Hydro’s reservoirs as demand for power remained high,” said Aquino.

In addition, cold and dry weather delayed the onset of the spring freshet this year.

“However, inflows into the reservoirs started to increase in April with warmer weather and will soon start filling the reservoirs.”

He added that while BC Hydro is predicting higher water flows resulting from climate change over the long term, unpredictable weather patterns are expected to continue in future.

A BC Hydro report titled Generational challenge: How B.C.’s generation system is adapting to extreme weather and unforeseen events found the past 12 months demonstrate how extreme weather in B.C. can impact BC Hydro’s reservoir levels.

Email the newsroom

Visit our Facebook page

Typos? Email the editor!

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Image Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO)

Image Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO)

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Raising more than $1,300 for the KVHS’s dementia home project, Dennis and Brenda Horwood leave Kitimat with a bang and start their new retirement journey together. (Photo supplied)
KVHS thanks local Kitimat couple for their contributions to the dementia home project

Dennis and Brenda Horwood raise $1,360 during a retirement garage sale

No increase in fees will be made by the leisure services department in the summer months. Reviews will be made again in May/June for any recommended fee adjustments in the fall. (District of Kitimat photo)
District of Kitimat halt leisure fee increases until the fall

The Leisure Services Advisory Commission recommended no increase take place at this time

Mount Elizabeth Theatre have been approved for a provision of funding by city council for up to $42,000. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat’s multi-use theatre grant request approved for live streaming equipment

A funding commitment of up to $42,000 was granted from council to the Mount Elizabeth Theatre

Tracy Owen-Best with her husband, Larry Best. Tracy runs both the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials Salon in Kitimat. Diagnosed with cancer in March 2020, she’s kept a positive mindset with the help from a supportive family. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Tracy Owen-Best

Barbershop owner and cancer fighter keeps it positive

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

The city asking the public if they want to pursue legal action against the province and their decision to override the city on the Victory Church issue. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton ready to sue province over homeless shelter

City council voted unanimously to authorize legal action

Most Read