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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

With video: 19 Wing Comox home to new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft

The CC-295 Kingfisher was officially unveiled Friday

Vancouver Island couple’s sheep farm dream disrupted by high lumber price

The solar powered farm project in Sayward will be set back by three years if the lumber price continues to remain high

Valley RCMP still looking for missing man six months after disappearance

John Wesley Edwards (“Wes”) who was last seen in Courtenay on March 20.

Valley RCMP respond to three crashes in one night

If the conditions are less than optimal, drivers are expected to adjust their speed and slow down.

Tour de Rock rolls into the Comox Valley

The tour this year featured alumni riders cycling in their specific geographic area

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read