With the warmer weather approaching, people will start to enter the Puntledge River to cool off. Tubing is the most common river activity. It’s a wonderful river system and a community asset, though people should keep in mind it’s a hydroelectric operated system where river flows may change quickly.
Public safety is important to BC Hydro and the system and two dams are managed year-round by providing slow increases and decreases in water discharges. There are other situations where river flows can change quickly and be unplanned. There are warning sirens placed along the river from Comox Dam to Puntledge Park and they will initiate should a sudden water flow increase take place. Permanent river safety signage is in place, but the siren system provides the real-time notice in advising people to move out of the river.
A test has been planned, without releasing water from the Comox dam, on May 12. This year the sirens will be manually initiated by pouring water into the holding wells beside the river to mimic a river flow increase and make sure all the sirens are operational. The tests will take place from around 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. People near the river will hear the siren sounds from Comox dam down to the Puntledge Park area.
This work is to confirm that they working as designed during the simulated river flow changes.
BC Hydro is replacing the existing public warning system with a new and enhanced system. More information on that initiative, as we close in on testing the new system, will be provided in the near future.