BC Hydro will not be lowering water levels at Alouette Lake next month.
In fall of 2019, Hydro reported its plan to bring down the lake water levels by six meters, in order to complete dam upgrade work lasting four to six weeks. The proposed work includes upgrades to the tunnel infrastructure between Alouette Lake and Stave Lake Reservoirs, to improve its reliability following a large (one in 10,000 year) earthquake.
“Our plans to draw down the Alouette and Stave reservoirs have been deferred to a later, and yet to be determined date,” said Hydro spokesperson Kevin Aquino. “This means the reservoir will not be lowered by six metres this summer as we had originally planned.
“As our planning continues for the upgrade work, we’ll continue to engage with First Nations and stakeholders.”
That’s good news for boaters and others who go to Golden Ears Provincial Park for aquatic recreation.
The delay in the work means there could still still time for Hydro to plan to add infrastructure that would bring salmon runs back into the water system, said Cheryl Ashlie, president of the Alouette River Management Society. ARMS and other local conservation groups and individuals have been lobbying Hydro for a fish ladder for over a decade.
Hydo has a Fish Passage Decision Framework – a process evaluates the restoration of fish production where it has been blocked by dams.
“We keep pushing through all of the steps around that,” said Ashlie. “We’ve ticket a lot of the boxes.”
She said issues such as building an Alouette Lake hatchery, and who would pay for its operation, are being discussed between Hydro and ARMS. Ashlie sees a lot of common ground.
“The people at the table want what we want, but they are constrained by the whole structure of Hydro.”
When salmon return to the fish ladder on the Alouette River, ARMS loads them into a tank, and trucks them past the dam and into the lake. Ashlie said that process will continue this year, she said, adding they have been seeing more fish return.