BC Hydro’s mitigation efforts in response to severe drought on Arrow Lakes Reservoir
Over the past few months, water levels on the Arrow Lakes Reservoir have decreased significantly, and we know this had had an impact on the community and can appreciate how difficult it has been. While protecting wildlife and the environment is a top priority, the impacts of the severe drought have resulted in stranded fish and mortalities. We want the community to know we are taking this extremely seriously, and we will be increasing the number of environmental professionals in the West Kootenay region to monitor conditions and returned stranded fish to the water. We are also committed to continuing to provide ongoing enhanced communications to the public, First Nations, stakeholders and local government.
When it comes to protecting the fish in the reservoir and nearby tributaries, we are working hard to ensure we can reduce the number of fish stranding and fish mortalities. To date, we have salvaged over 23,000 Sucker, Dace, Pikeminnow, Redside Shiner, and Sculpins fish, returning them to the water. We currently have environmental specialist teams on the ground; however, the reservoir is very large (about 230 kilometres long from Revelstoke to Castlegar), and in many areas, salvages are not safe for crews due to the deep mud.
Going forward, we will be continuing and adding new mitigation measures, including:
- Increasing the number of environmental specialist teams in the region to monitor the conditions and help return stranded fish to the water.
- Taking extra steps, together with the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and the Province, to survey creek mouths in advance of spawning migration to assess passage as well as collecting additional water temperature data. Ground and aerial counts for kokanee are currently underway and spawners are being observed in key tributaries.
- Coordinating with the U.S. to minimize the ongoing impacts. In the spring, we negotiated with the U.S. to allow for higher water levels than there would have otherwise been. This includes keeping Arrow Lake Reservoir water levels eight feet higher than projected from May to August.
We are grateful for the dedicated group of stakeholders and the local First Nations, who are interested in the operation of the Arrow Lakes Reservoir. We truly appreciate their engagement as we continue to manage the system through this severe drought.
Keeping you informed:
Information on reservoir levels and river flows is also available by calling 1-877-924-2444 or visiting bchydro.com.