Work on Duncan Dam boosts local economy

The Nelson Daily, by Timothy Schafer on 07 Oct 2011

Work on Duncan Dam boosts local economy.

New jobs and an injection of $25,000 into the local economy each month is the bottom line for the ongoing Duncan Dam Spillway upgrade project in the Meadow Creek region, according to a BC Hydro spokesperson.

Mary Anne Coules said a Sept. 20 BC Hydro operations update meeting at the Lardeau Valley Community Centre in Meadow Creek held some interest in the ongoing gates reliability project — expected to be completed in June, 2012.

But, although work on the $39.8-million 46-year-old spillway gates is needed to keep the dam at the north end of Kootenay Lake up to date, people were more interested in hearing about what the project could do for the local economy, said Coules.

“There are definitely opportunities for local employment on this project,” she said, adding that it would be mainly trades people hired.

The Duncan Dam will require a combination of replacement, refurbishment, and the addition of new equipment on the spillway and low-level outlet gates.

The scope of work includes rock stabilization above the spillway (completed in June), minor modifications to the spillway gates (beginning this month), replacement of the hoist tower and installation of backup power supplies for the spillway gates and low-level outlet gates.

“The refurbished gates will accurately and consistently maintain the flow requirements of the Duncan Dam Project Water Use Plan,” said Coules.

People can contact enploi@hmiconstruction.ca for information on employment.

Low down on the spillway

The Duncan Dam was one of the three dams constructed in Canada under the terms of the Columbia River Treaty. Construction began in 1965 and the project became operational in 1967.

The dam infrastructure consists of a zoned earth-filled dam, a spillway with two spillway gates in the left abutment, and two low level outlet gates in the right abutment. There is no powerhouse at this facility.

The spillway gates in the dam act as movable water barriers, holding and controlling the amount of water that can be discharged from the reservoir. These gates are critical components and are generally opened in times of flood when high inflows exceed the ability of generating units to use all of the water.

This provides a vital safety function ensuring flood water is discharged safety to protect the reliability of the dam.

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