Hydro releases its version of Dam Busters

The decommissioning of the Heber River dam just east of Gold River is a unique chapter

BC Hydro is not normally in the dam busting business so when it happens it’s worth watching.

The decommissioning of the Heber River dam just east of Gold River is a unique chapter in Vancouver Island hydro power history that the utility has captured on video and has released for viewing.

The video of the Heber River Diversion Decommissioning Project includes time lapse photography of the project, construction video and interviews. It can be viewed by going to Tremain Media and clicking on the Hydro icon.

BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson says the dam was dismantled this summer due to its poor condition and after consultation with First Nations, government agencies, and stakeholders.

The 54-year-old dam was a 120-metre-long, 10-metre-high rock fill timber crib dam that had no water storage. When there was sufficient water in the Heber River, it could be diverted through a 3.6 km woodstave pipeline into the Campbell River system for power generation Hydro’s Strathcona, Ladore and John Hart generating stations. Water had not been diverted since 2006.

Watson says removal of the dam means upstream fish passage has been restored; there is more water in the Heber River for downstream steelhead; the site has been returned to wildland standards; and, BC Hydro’s overall footprint in the area is now smaller.

Jamie Boulding, at Strathcona Park Lodge says: “This started 12 years ago for me in a water use planning process with BC Hydro and others in the community, and it’s nice to see something talked about for years actually finished. Remembering my father telling me how disappointed he was seeing his favourite steelhead fishing river being partially diverted, it was a special day to see it a wild river again. I look forward to paddling the white water of the wild Heber River in the future.”

Watson says: “BC Hydro hired Campbell River-based Tremain Media Inc. to film the construction time lapse, construction video and interviews. We are very pleased with the final product that provides a historical record of the facility and the decommissioning work. From historical pictures to excavators moving at warp speed, there is something for everyone and a must see.”