REVISED ORDER ENSURES CONTINUED SAFE OPERATION OF W.A.C. BENNETT DAM Ministry of Environment, Lands and ParksFor Immediate Release330-30:ELP96/97-132March 6, 1997
VICTORIA - B.C. Hydro will be allowed to return the W.A.C. Bennett Dam to normal operation this summer, including increasing the level of the Williston Reservoir, after the company meets a number of conditions to ensure the continued safe operation of the dam.
The conditions to ensure public safety are outlined in an order from the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks' Comptroller of Water Rights to B.C. Hydro.
The Williston Reservoir level was ordered lowered last summer as a precaution after two sinkholes were discovered at the dam. A subsequent investigation found that internal erosion, specifically soil particle movement within the dam core, had occurred. Reduced capacity in the drainage system was also discovered.
Included as requirements in the comptroller's order are:
(a) planned completion by May of the repairs now under way on the two sinkholes.
(b) continued intensive surveillance and monitoring of the dam's condition, as well as ongoing testing of the drainage system's performance.
(c) regular six-month status reports on the dam's performance provided to the ministry.
(d) the comptroller's approval for all improvements to the dam.
Hydro will also be required to continue its public information program to keep those people and groups affected by the dam updated on its operations. The ministry will also be working with Hydro and local governments to review and co-ordinate the updating of local emergency preparedness plans.
If all conditions are met, the Williston Reservoir level will be allowed to go above its current mandated level of 2,182 feet above sea level. Normal operating level is 2,205 feet.
B.C. Hydro, as owner/operator of the Bennett Dam, is responsible for the safety of the dam and related structures. The Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, through the provincial Dam Safety Inspection Program, ensures that dam owners meet their public safety responsibilities.
- 30 -Contact: Jack Farrell, (250) 387-6945
Comptroller of Water Rights,
VictoriaLiz Bicknell, (250) 356-7045
Public Affairs & Communications,
Ministry of Environment, Lands & Parks
VictoriaNadine Cahan, (888) 826-2226
W.A.C. Bennett Dam