Changes to BC Hydro's Jordan river hydroelectric operations have been approved by British Columbia's Comptroller of Water Rights. The approved changes have been developed to bring benefits to fish, wildlife and recreation.
The Jordan River facility is BC Hydro’s largest on Vancouver Island, Canada, including three dams and reservoirs and a power house with enough capacity to supply 170,000 homes.
Highlights of the water use plan, developed by the Jordan river consultative committee and BC Hydro, will mean that:
• Trout, salmon, wildlife and amphibians will benefit from increased habitat, as a minimum river flow will be established downstream of the Elliott dam for the first time since the dam was constructed in 1971.
• Trout health will improve with better water quality and temperatures, as BC Hydro raised the lower operating level of the diversion reservoir.
• Recreation through surfing will benefit at Jordan Beach by reducing water discharges and power generation for a number of weekend days each March – the peak surfing month of the year.
Operational changes that benefit trout in the reservoir and the surfing community have already been implemented, with BC Hydro currently reviewing the water release options at Elliott dam. The water release device to provide the minimum river base flow will be installed by 2006.
The consultation committee included federal and provincial government agencies, First Nations, community interest groups and BC Hydro. The wider group supported the changes, although the T’Sou-ke First Nation supported a run-of-river option in terms of achieving their treaty rights.
BC Hydro is preparing water use plans for 23 of its hydroelectric systems, with the aim of improving water management and gaining maximum public benefits from the resource. The plans will be reviewed and approved by the Comptroller, the official responsible for water use regulation in British Columbia. On Vancouver Island, BC Hydro has submitted Water Use Plans for each of its four systems: the Jordan river, Ash river (near Port Alberni), Puntledge river (near Courtenay) and Campbell river.