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)

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Courtney Preyser is a music teacher and librarian for several schools in Kitimat, and her passion for music and literacy shows in her work. (Clare Rayment)
In Our Valley: Courtney Preyser

Preyser grew up with a passion for music and literacy, which shows in her work and life everyday

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Clare’s Corner: Giving thanks despite the negatives

Thanksgiving may have passed, but it’s never too late to count your blessings

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Police look for vehicle after dangerous driving incident

The driver was speeding and failed to pull over for police

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Most Read