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Heck of a bathtub to clean — Kootenay Canal gets 'dewatered'

Suzy Hamilton
By Suzy Hamilton
September 5th, 2014

It’s a heck of a bathtub to clean.

BC Hydro will be draining the Kootenay Canal, west of Nelson, from early September to the end of October to upgrade the canal’s lining.

It’s a  $10 million project that will utilize 70 workers — including engineers, safety experts, construction workers and environment workers — to complete, with at least 35 workers on site daily.

Kootenay Lake residents have already noticed the lake has dropped about a foot in the last two weeks.

“Drafting Kootenay Lake to a lower level prior to the start of the project allows some water to be stored in the Kootenay Lake while the Kootenay Canal is dewatered and the generating station is out of service,,” said BC Hydro’s Community Relations advisor Sabrina Locicero

“The stored water can then be used for generation when the Kootenay Canal facility returns to service in late October, helping us meet the electricity needs of British Columbians.”

Locicero said that BC Hydro will continue to meet electrical demands during the two months by ensuring water running through the Kootenay River Plants continues to be used efficiently.

Lake levels, said Locicero,  have been around 1,742-1742.5 feet at Queens Bay from late August to early September.

“This is about one foot below normal for this time of year. Lake levels are expected to climb to normal levels by the end of September, to an elevation of approximately 1,745 feet,” she said.

The material being used to update the canal’s lining is expected to extend the lifespan of the canal by about 50 years.

It is a specialized, extremely durable, geotextile designed for water storage in canals and reservoirs, Locicero said.

Approximately 10,000 square meters of the material will be installed along the north and south sides of the canal.

Fortis BC has also been issuing alerts to its customers.

It generates hydroelectric power at four dams on the Kootenay River.

“Vital to these operations is the level of Kootenay Lake, which is governed by the 1938 International Joint Commission (IJC) order on Kootenay Lake, held by FortisBC,” said Fortis BC communications manager Neal Pobran.

Basically, the order ensures certain lake levels for Kootenay Lake.

“Part of our role as the holder of the International Joint Commission order is to notify customers when there is going to be a large or unusual change to the lake levels.

To ensure public safety, BC Hydro has installed safety signage along the canal’s  recreational trails, which will remain open, and asks the public to contact BC Hydro if they have any questions regarding access until project completion.

Categories: General

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