BC Hydro’s John Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade Project reached another milestone with the award of the civil works contract to the Aecon-EBC General Partnership.
The schedule remains on track for construction work to start on the dam in summer 2023, following anticipated final internal approvals and the conclusion of the BC Utilities Commission process in spring 2023.
“BC Hydro is planning seismic upgrades at John Hart Dam to ensure the facility continues to deliver safe, reliable power,” says BC Hydro’s spokesperson, Stephen Watson in a press release. “We’re pleased to award the civil work contract to the Aecon-EBC General Partnership who have a previous history of building and upgrading hydroelectric projects. We look forward to working closely with the contractor’s team as we plan for construction this summer and continuing through 2026.”
The proposed project will address dam safety risks at the John Hart Dam and will significantly improve the facility’s ability to withstand a major seismic event. The project will also improve the reliability of the ageing spillway gate system and increase the dam’s spill capacity.
The civil works contractor will upgrade the earthfill and concrete sections of the dam, and create an overflow spillway under the existing road deck.
The hydro-mechanical work will replace the three spillway gates and related works. The Request for Proposals for this contract is currently planned to be issued in 2024, with the construction work proceeding after completion of the civil work.
Since late September, BC Hydro has been working on what’s called early site preparation works to help the civil works contractor in their mobilization this summer pending overall project approvals. This includes the creation of site laydown construction areas, power line relocations, and a new BC Hydro boat ramp that will be positioned outside of the planned double silt curtain that will be placed within the John Hart Reservoir to protect water quality during construction. The boat ramp is not for public use.
BC Hydro has closed Brewster Lake Road across the John Hart Dam from Nov. 27 through to Dec. 19 for some conduit work across the road. One week was added on to the road closure as a result of the cold weather.
“We’ve had about 15 to 20 people working on the site since October and the work has progressed well,” says Watson. “The work is all being done by local subcontractors.”
Starting in summer 2023, BC Hydro forecasts an average of about 100 people working at the site over the approximate six years of project construction.
The John Hart Dam on the Campbell River hydroelectric system was built in the 1940s. The newly designed John Hart powerhouse replaced the old powerhouse in fall 2018. Vancouver Island is within the most seismically active zone in British Columbia. It is the closest region to the Cascadia Subduction Zone where the largest recorded earthquake in Canada occurred.