During the July 13 regular public meeting of council, Rio Tinto did not show up for a scheduled audio presentation. Mayor and council said they were concerned about the high levels of water in the Nechako Reservoir.
Andrew Czornohalan, operations director for Rio Tinto, did not present to council during a pre-scheduled meeting as there was a “scheduling conflict”, said Simon Letendre, Rio Tinto’s director of media relations for Canada & US.
Meanwhile, in response to questions Coun. Kevin Moutray sent an email statement to the Express on July 17 stating that the concern with the reservoir being full isn’t a concern for the next couple of months.
“But that they (Rio Tinto) don’t have a lot of options either in the Fall, if there is a significant rain event like 2017 or have a high snow pack and full reservoir come Spring 2021.”
In 2017, Rio Tinto opened up their spillway to 300 cubic metres on October 27, Moutray said.
As of July 16, the reservoir is at 2,799.72 feet and is designed to operate at a level of 2,800 feet, as confirmed by Letendre. He said water is not expected to reach 2,800 feet this year.
“The water level in the reservoir is currently higher than the long term average, but within the historical operating range. The reservoir level is expected to start decreasing in the next few days.”
Discharge from the reservoir increases as usual on July 11 in preparation for the Summer Temperature Management Program (STMP) which is operated to protect sockeye salmon migrating through the Nechako River, he said.
STMP will be in place until August 20 and during that time the discharge in the Nechako River at Cheslatta Falls will fluctuate between 170 and 283 cubic metres in response to spillway discharge, Letendre said.