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BC Hydro marks Hugh L. Keenleyside's 50th

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
October 17th, 2018

BC Hydro recently celebrated the 50th anniversary from the completion of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam on the Arrow Lakes north of Castlegar.

To commemorate the date, BC Hydro hosted a small gathering at the dam on the  anniversary date.

Attendees included Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and Area Director Rick Smith, as well as Honorable Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

Some background information about the Hugh Keenleyside Dam:

  • BC Hydro’s Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam marked 50 years from the date of official completion on Oct. 10, 2018. Construction of the dam began at Castlegar Narrows in 1965 and was completed in 1968, six months ahead of schedule.
  • ·Originally named High Arrow Dam, it was renamed in 1968 after Hugh Llewellyn Keenleyside. Dr. H.L. Keenleyside became co-chair of BC Hydro when it was formed from the British Columbia Power Commission and BC Electric in 1962.
  • Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam is located 8 kilometres upstream from Castlegar and entrains the Arrow Lakes that serves as a storage reservoir extending 232 kilometres north to Revelstoke.
  • The dam accommodates a navigation lock to provide passage for commercial and recreational boat traffic between the Arrow Lakes and the Columbia River. It is the only lock in Western Canada.
  • At the peak of the project in the winter of 1966-67, more than 1,600 people were working to build the dam. In the years it took to complete, there were no worker fatalities.
  • The dam is about 52 metres high, with a crest length of 853.4 metres. Of this, 366 meters of the crest length is concrete dam and the rest is earth fill dam.
  • The completed dam structures required a total of 583,000 cubic yards of concrete, 2.3 million bags of cement, 5,250 tons of concrete aggregate and 7,500 tons of structural steel.
  • The dam is the second of three built by BC Hydro under the terms of the Columbia River Treaty, which also include the Duncan Dam, completed in 1967, and Mica Dam which was completed in 1973.
  • Together, Hugh L. Keenleyside, Mica and Duncan Dams regulate the flow of the Columbia River to end the annual threat of flood damage in BC, Washington and Oregon.
  • ·The benefits continue to be broadly experienced within both the USA and Canada – there have been no major incidents of flooding on the Columbia since the construction of these Treaty dams, although the development of the Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam was not without impacts.
  • The filling of Arrow Lakes Reservoir resulted in the displacement of over 2,000 local people, impacted traditional Indigenous sites and artifacts, agricultural and forestry areas, as well as fish and wildlife habitat. 
  • ·Optimization of power generation at existing power plants and the development of large power plants at several locations along the Columbia and its tributaries was an added benefit. The enhancement of power generation helps provide reliable, affordable, clean energy to North America.

Members of the public attend the opening ceremonies at High Arrow Dam (later Hugh L. Keenleyside) in June, 1969. — Photo by Jim MacCarthy

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