The two new outlet valves were tested last week and will provide BC Hydro with increased downstream water flow management, such as the annual fish habitat flows down Elk Falls Canyon. They are shown flowing at full capacity or a combined 44 cubic metres per second.

Water flows through the John Hart tunnels

BC Hydro generating station project near Campbell River enters new milestone

Water is now flowing through the underground tunnels at the new John Hart hydroelectric facility.

And there are a lot of satisfied smiles around the project site.

“This is a big achievement for the project team and work crews, and ultimately, this is five years in the making when BC Hydro staff and InPower BC staff worked out the Project Agreement in developing this amazing project,” BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson said in a press release. “Our contractor managed through the underground rock removal process, then the underwater rock blasting while also successfully protecting water quality within the John Hart reservoir, and now they’ve successfully moved through the watering up process within the 2.2 km of tunnels.

“We could not be happier. It’s a massive project for BC Hydro, and for the Campbell River community and Vancouver Island. The project continues to track on time and on budget.”

See video of the tunnels: VIDEO: John Hart Dam replacement project edging closer to completion

Watson said some initial cloudiness in the water coming out of the tunnel was expected with it fully passing through all of the tunnel sections for the first time, and that the water quality was monitored and stayed well within water quality compliance for downstream fish habitat.

“The water is now flowing through tunnels but also the new water release valves on the downstream side of the John Hart dam,” said Watson. “One of the valves is designed to provide the year-round flows for fish habitat down Elk Falls Canyon. This is the first commissioning of the project works with the valves and the new water bypass facility, located within the underground powerhouse, being turned over to BC Hydro for downstream water management.”

“We have a great team with SNC-Lavalin, Aecon, General Electric and over 100 local suppliers, services, and subcontractors,” said InPower BC CEO, Paul Sawyer. “We are pleased with how things have come together. There is lots of work ahead as we look to have the first turbine/generator producing power for BC Hydro in early summer. We’ll maintain our steady focus through the facility commissioning in the fall – however, it’s nice to take a moment and think about how far we’ve come.”

“I would like to congratulate everyone who’s been involved on the John Hart project since the beginning in reaching this major project milestone,” said Minister of Transportation and North Island MLA Claire Trevena. “I’ve closely followed this project for years and have been constantly amazed at the rate of change during the construction phase – the overall scope of the project is immense.”

“This project has been a huge focus for our community and we are very pleased how successfully it has moved along while also considering the community interests,” said City of Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams. “From the walking trails, helping to make the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge a reality, to working collaboratively with the City on our new domestic water intake system. We’re getting close to the finish line for this project, though there are more large projects planned by BC Hydro to keep the wider Campbell River system safe and reliable.”

Watson said the annual John Hart project community site event, the fourth and likely final event, will be held on Sept. 16 to provide people with the opportunity to go underground and see the powerhouse before it is fully commissioned in October.

New for this year is people must acquire one of a limited number of tickets in order to go on the tour. BC Hydro and InPower BC expect a lot of interest and this was seen as the best way to logistically have a successful event.

“The details of the community site event will be provided in early June, including where you can get the approximate 1,200 tickets around the end of June,” said Watson, chuckling.

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