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B.C. Hydro receives an update every month on the snow pack levels, which give them a sense of what’s flowing into the reservoir. May’s report will be in next week, and June’s a month later, which will help them decide whether a spill is necessary.

There hasn’t been a spill at the dam since 2002, but cooler spring temperatures have created higher than normal snow pack in the Peace Region.

“If it’s showing that the forecast elevation for the reservoir is going to be full, that increases the chance (of a spill),” says B.C. Hydro Community Relations Co-ordinator Bob Gammer.

Even if levels are high, B.C. Hydro will still try to move the water out of the reservoir by generating power through the turbines. However, if the reservoir is full with more water coming in than can be managed, then it has to go through the spillway.

There’s no way of predicting from year to year if a spill will be necessary, as Gammer says, “every year is unique”. If there’s warmer weather, but with lots of rain, there could be a sudden increase in inflows and a decision may have to be made quickly, but a cool spring like this one with gradual melt of snow can be managed, even if it’s a big water year. That being said, a decision to spill will likely only be made a day or two beforehand.

“It all depends on the weather, and the conditions that are present throughout the spring up until a point when the reservoir is near full or at full,” says Gammer.

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