BC Hydro says the seismic upgrade work done in 2020 on the John Hard Dam sets them up to move forward with future plans for the system in 2021 and beyond. BC Hydro photo

BC Hydro says the seismic upgrade work done in 2020 on the John Hard Dam sets them up to move forward with future plans for the system in 2021 and beyond. BC Hydro photo

John Hart Dam seismic work in 2020 sets BC Hydro up for ‘a big year’ in 2021

Application for further work being submitted to BC Utilities Commission this year

BC Hydro says the planned seismic upgrades to the John Hart Dam made “good advancements in 2020,” and sets them up for a big year in 2021.

“We initiated the project in 2014 to find the best way to upgrade the dam so that it can withstand a severe earthquake and maintain downstream public safety,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson. “Over that time, we have been meeting with First Nations, government agencies and stakeholders on the project as we refined the design, and considered community interests. We now have a plan in place where once these upgrades are complete it is our expectation that the John Hart Dam would withstand a severe earthquake.”

In early December, Watson said BC Hydro provided another project update to their Campbell River Hydroelectric Facilities Liaison Committee, made up of about two-dozen stakeholders and government agencies.

“We’ve been talking to the committee about the planning of the various segments of the upgrade at the over 800-metre-long dam, and at the last meeting, we went over construction planning and how we think this work could be completed,” Watson says.

A few months ago, BC Hydro released its first project video outlining the project need and the various components of the upgrade.

BC Hydro says there has been community interest in protecting fish and wildlife habitat, protecting water quality in the reservoir for domestic water supply and fish, economic opportunities during construction, and the five to six year road closure across the dam during construction.

“Protecting water quality within the John Hart Reservoir is one of the biggest project focuses, particularly when we’ll be dredging material out and then placing new material as part of upstream earthfill berm improvements to the dam,” Watson says. “During that period, we will have a floating walkway around the work zone with silt curtains hanging from either side, down to the reservoir bottom, to contain the turbid water.”

BC Hydro is expecting to file an application for the project with the BC Utilities Commission in 2021 and hopes to receive approval in 2022. If the project is approved, construction is expected to begin in 2023 and be complete around 2029.

The procurement process for the project may begin in the summer. BC Hydro and the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce have again partnered together to provide jobs and procurement information at www.majorprojects.ca

“As a former city councillor, through BC Hydro’s annual city council updates, and now as the MLA, I have and will continue to follow this proposed project closely,” says North Island MLA, Michele Babchuk. “It’s a very important capital project for our community, and I’m pleased to see it continue to advance with some significant milestones planned in 2021.”

“As a long-time member of BC Hydro’s liaison committee it’s been interesting to watch the project develop, and at our last committee meeting, to see the various components of the proposed dam safety upgrade along with how they may be constructed,” agrees Mayor Andy Adams. “It was also good to continue to see BC Hydro’s ongoing planning in protecting water quality within the John Hart Reservoir during the construction phase, which is very important to the City and the community. The project continues to move along in the right direction.”

BC Hydro also continues to advance the Strathcona Dam Water Discharge Upgrade Project and the Ladore Spillway Seismic Upgrade Project. Those two dam safety upgrade projects may begin construction in 2024. For any questions about the three proposed projects, including filling out project feedback forms, you can reach Stephen Watson by email at steve.watson@bchydro.com

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