Let the water flow: BC Hydro to flood John Hart generating station tunnels later this month

The John Hart Generating Station replacement project will soon turn on the taps and fill up the underground tunnels of the new underground hydroelectric generating facility on the Campbell River.

“It’s all culminating with this amazing ability for having waterflow starting this year,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson during a tour of the facility last week. “We’re going to have the water flowing into the tunnels end of March .”

That will be followed by two large water release valves taking over the flow of water into the Elk Falls canyon. Presently, the water is released through gates in the John Hart Dam. Two large water release valves will provide the water flow down Elk Falls Canyon.

The John Hart Generation Station replacement project is a $1.093 billion project replacing the 70-year-old John Hart Generating Station – which exists on the surface at the entrance to Elk Falls Canyon on the Campbell River – with a fully-underground facility built into the bedrock.

Water will actually be running through the tunnels by May and the first of the new turbines will be operating by June with the entire facility up and running by October. The project was initiated in 2007 and construction began in 2014.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in the project since it started in 2007. It’s been almost 11, 12 years in the making, when it’s all been said and done, and to see it happening like this, the challenges that the contractor has done a great job to overcome, it’s just a really exciting time for this community.”

Once completed, Watson said BC Hydro attains a facility that fulfills three goals: it’s seismically strong, embedded in bedrock; it protects downstream fish habitat by maintaining constant flows because of a bypass facility just to keep those flows going; and the power utility has a new generating facility that will last another 70 years.

“It’s extraordinarily impressive what’s been happening here for the last four years,” North Island MLA Claire Trevena said. “We’ve seen exponential growth from nothing through to a massive cavern to now where we have turbines in place, we have all the valves ready to go we’ve got the work completing.

“It’s been an extraordinary project.”

While turning on the taps is a nice metaphor, it’s not actually that simple. The process is done in stages (see diagram below):

Step 1: The water intake and valves:

  • First, water from the new intake at the dam will fill the water intake structure.
  • Second, with water from the intake structure, the two water release valves that will provide the water flow down Elk Falls Canyon will be commissioned.

Step 2: Tailrace and power tunnel:

  • To add water in tailrace tunnel, BC Hydro will pull the metal stop logs at the tunnel outlet and slowly allow water to enter the tunnel. This may take a day.
  • To fill the power tunnel, the large operating gate within the water intake structure will be opened in stages. There are seven steps for watering up the power tunnel and it may take two weeks to complete.

Step 3: Start commissioning/wet testing:

  • Once all the water is in, Hydro will begin preparing for operation of the generators and water bypass facility.

Source: John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project Feburary 2018 Community Construction Update Report #56.

 

InPower BC CEO Paul Sawyer (left) discusses the water release valves with North Island MLA CLaire Trevena. The John Hart Dam is the concrete structure to the right. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Just Posted

Port McNeill Cannabis Committee stumbles out of the gate

“I’m worried we could just be all over the map and I need to see a plan.”

Port Alice’s new RCMP officers going through clearance process

The medical process can take several months to complete as there are several steps involved.

East Zeballos placed under evacuation alert as “out of control” wildfire approaches homes

BC Wildfire Service says rolling debris on steep terrain poses danger to firefighters

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Port Hardy Fire Rescue knocks down wildland fire

PHFR members responded to the scene, located the fire, and contained it to the immediate area.

Happy birthday Boler: An anniversary gathering of the cutest campers in Winnipeg

Hundreds of the unique trailers in Winnipeg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manitoba invention

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

Coffee chain plans to open 1,500 stores in Asia over the next decade

How to help B.C. wildfire victims

Donations being taken by many organizations, BC Hydro waiving bills

A Brush with Henschel: Harbour Glow

Harbour Glow is another attempt to capture one of the moods this beautiful environment has to offer.

Whole city of Kimberley on an evacuation alert due to wildfires

Residents woke up Friday morning being told to get ready to leave any moment

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

B.C. judge who cried during a victim statement to rule on recusing herself

The judge will decide if she’ll disqualify herself from sentencing a man for sexual assault

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault on the job

Toronto photographer says he was attacked while covering a protest

Most Read