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Low water levels create Strathcona Dam upgrade prep work opportunity

A section of concrete at the spillway area of the dam needs to be reinforced
Strathcona Dam. BC Hydro photo

The low water levels in the Campell River system have created an opportunity for some drilling work to be done on the Strathcona Dam as part of it’s seismic upgrade.

“The past few years we have been waiting for an opportune time to do some drilling work on the upstream side of the dam at elevation 214 metres or lower as we continue to prepare for the project,” BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson said in a project update. “The upstream reservoir level generally operates between 212 metres and 220.5 metres. There is now an opportunity to do this important work.”

As part of the planned dam safety upgrades at Strathcona Dam, a section of concrete at the spillway area of the dam needs to be reinfroced to enable it to withstand future seismic events. A small investigation is required to understand the depth of the bedrock at this location to ensure the design will be safe and constructable. BC Hydro needs the reservoir to be down to the 214 metre level to enable dry access to the spillway approach channel and get a small excavator in place. The investigation work should only take one day or two days.

“With the current low reservoir level, we will make some short-term water management changes while importantly not affecting the system-wide water storage, or the current Campbell River flow,” Watson said.

BC Hydro began shifting water from Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake to Lower Campbell Reservoir/McIvor Lake yesterdau. This means it should achieve the 214 metre level by Nov. 21 to conduct the site work. The Lower Campbell Reservoir will move up about 1.5 metres by Nov. 23 with the water storage shift. Once the drilling work is complete, flows passing downstream of Strathcona Dam will be minimal until the system reservoir storage rebalances. So Upper Campbell Reservoir will begin to rise and Lower Campbell Reservoir will move back down again.

Residents and recreation users along the Lower Campbell Reservoir will notice the fluctuations, Watson said.

“Should there be larger storms than forecast that may hit the watershed we may at that point resume normal water management operations, and postpone this investigation work to a future time when the reservoir level may hit 214 metres,” Watson said.

The new Strathcona Dam project update video can be viewed here:

Brewster Lake Road closure – Nov. 27 to Dec. 12

BC Hydro is providing public notice of a two week road closure across the John Hart Dam. Brewster Lake Road will be closed off on either side of the dam on Nov. 27, at 7 a.m., and re-open on Dec. 12 at 5 p.m. The road will be closed 24 hours a day over the two weeks.

Temporary road closure signage is posted on either side of the dam. During the closures please use the alternative route of Highway 19.

BC Hydro’s John Hart Dam Seismic Upgrade Project early site preparation works mostly include the creation of laydown construction areas and powerline relocations. This road closure is needed for crews to do powerline relocation work, though it’s mostly for some conduit work along the roadway. With the planned seismic upgrade work at the old water intake section of the John Hart Dam, BC Hydro is moving the reservoir water level monitoring system to a concrete section by the spillway gates. This relocation work requires new electrical conduit to be placed under the road surface. Trenching will be required as well as resurfacing.

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