The remains of the Salmon River Diversion Dam will be left as will the diversion channel while the river bed is restored to a natural condition after the bulk of the dam was removed this month. Photo: Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

VIDEO: BC Hydro removes Salmon River Diversion Dam

BC Hydro’s timber crib dam on the Salmon River is now gone.

Work to fully remove the dam and clean up the dam footprint was completed last week. Crews are now restoring and shaping the riverbed in preparation for the coho run this fall.

“This was a big achievement for BC Hydro and our contractor, Kwikw Construction,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “It was quite a sight to see the timber crib dam gone and to stand in an area where within a very short period of time there will be a restored riverbed, water flows and fish swimming by.”

BC Hydro has a fisheries work window between July and September to complete all the instream work.

“We did have some challenges with some sub-surface flow management when we tried to divert the water to the right bank and allow for the excavation and removal of the dam,” says Watson. “We worked to develop solutions to make it happen similar to the same kind of site challenges we incurred when we removed the Heber River dam in 2012. We lost some valuable time on that though the process of removing the dam went really well. So that was good news as it was another project risk – you never know what you may dig up from something built in 1958.”

Water quality monitoring and water treatment facilities are in place at the site.

“It’s great that fish will now benefit with the removal of the Salmon River diversion dam,” says North Island MLA and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, Claire Trevena. “Good fish passage past the dam became a significant community issue the past number of years. I commend BC Hydro in working with First Nations, the community, and the regulatory bodies in being able to remove the dam this summer.”

BC Hydro and First Nations continue to work closely on the project.

“This project is a win for the environment and a win for our economic opportunities,” says Wei Wai Kum First Nation Chief, Bob Pollard. “We have been involved throughout the project lifecycle, including the regulatory processes, the project design process, and the procurement process. This is another step forward in our ongoing and improved relationship with BC Hydro. It’s great to see all of that effort pay off and to see this dam removed.”

“When fish passage was opened up in the 1970s through the removal of a downstream natural barrier, it allowed salmon to fully migrate up to the dam,” Says We Wai Kai Nation Chief, Brian Assu. “Then this facility and the impacts to fish passage became an issue for us. For coho to have unhindered fish passage this fall, for the first time, up into that prime upstream habitat is a wonderful feeling. We’re very pleased.”

There are up to about 30 people working on the site. Some of the other project work includes the Paterson Creek wooden flume that was part of the diversion canal. The flume has been removed and crews will be stating to remove the concrete piers and restoring a section of creek channel.

Related: Salmon River diversion project works exposed to creosote

“K’omoks First Nation is glad to be part of the upcoming BC Hydro Projects. K’omoks First Nation are stewards of the environment within their Traditional Territory. Our historical and current presence in the Salmon River is important to our people and we are happy to be working with BC Hydro on these projects,” says K’omoks First Nation Chief, Nicole Rempel.

Located between Campbell River and Sayward, the Salmon River Diversion facility was constructed in 1957 to 1958. It was used to divert water from the Salmon River through a three kilometre canal system into Brewster Lake and eventually into the Lower Campbell Reservoir for power generation.

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BC Hydro’s Salmon River diversion project used to divert water into the Campbell River system.

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