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Downing the dam

Work crews are busy near Gold River removing the old Heber River dam and pipeline. - BC Hydro
Work crews are busy near Gold River removing the old Heber River dam and pipeline.
— image credit: BC Hydro

Work is well-underway to dismantle the Heber River Dam and pipeline.

The former hydro-electric generating facility, located approximately 15 kilometres northwest of Gold River, is 53 years old and was in poor condition.

The facility operated for 48 years, but has been out of service since November 2006. It was built to divert water from the Heber River into the Campbell River power generating system.

The structure is presently being dismantled and will be returned, as much as possible, to its natural state.

“During the Monday site tour there was a lot of activity as the main part of the project kicked in with the removal of the dam structure,” said BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson.

“Eight excavators and three loading trucks were operating, as well as about seven trucks going back and forth to Campbell River.”

The trucks hauled waste soils and timbers to the former Catalyst mill site. The materials will then be barged to Vancouver for proper disposal.

Quantum Murray is the general contractor and employs 25-30 people on the project. The contractor has done very well with local employment, with about a third of the workforce being from the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation of Gold River.

The project is moving towards the Drum Lake and Crest Crags area where the pipeline outlet is located. About a kilometre of pipeline is within Strathcona Provincial Park.

For about three weeks in September there will be limited access to the Crest Crags hiking and rock climbing area. Notices will be provided at the site and communicated in advance to BC Parks and various users, such as Strathcona Park Lodge.

The construction site has narrow roads and tight areas to work within so worker and public safety is of highest priority.

“Please do not enter the area,” said Watson. “There is also night security. The purpose of these updates is to let people know what’s happening without going to the site to look.”

The project is on budget and on track to be finished by October. There will be some plantings next season as well as several years of monitoring to make sure the site goes back to a natural state.

The removal of the dam will benefit fish and wildlife movement should improve with the removal of the pipline. The work also benefits Strathcona Provincial Park along with First Nations as 22.5 hectares of land will be reverted back to a natural state.

 

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