This week BC Hydro’s new public warning system for the John Hart hydroelectric facility will begin siren sound tests.
The plan is to replace the old 360-degree air raid siren sound with a whooping sound that is more directional, with the sirens facing upstream or downstream of the canyon or river.
BC Hydro communicated to the Mirror last month that it was making construction improvements to the old sirens and poles with a new system. The first set of sirens will be tested at the John Hart dam.
“The timing will be sporadic over the day, so people near the area will hear the new sirens occasionally at the dam on Wednesday through Friday,” said BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “Then there will be a few days next week for the siren tests downstream near the falls.”
The sound is identical to the siren system improvements made on the nearby Puntledge River.
Watson said the new sound may create some confusion as to what the sound means, so hence the need for community awareness.
The siren tests down by the powerhouse and by the old pulp and paper mill water intake below Second Island may take place at the end of November. The plan is to have the new system in place by the end of the year. Until then, the old system will remain in place to ensure public safety notification of sudden water flow changes.
“The new siren system will be more reliable and up to current public safety guidelines,” added Watson. “Water flow changes down Elk Falls Canyon or below the generating station can take place at any time, and it’s imperative that we have a good siren system in place to properly warn people downstream.”
The work is part of the final components of the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project.