The air raid-type sound people have being hearing for decades below the John Hart hydroelectric facilities to warn people of water flow changes is getting an upgrade.
The new system will also sound different as Hydro is moving to a whooping sound.
“We recently upgraded the Puntledge River public warning system and moved to a whooping sound that is consistent with Canadian Dam Association Guidelines,” said BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson. “We are going to implement that same sound at John Hart.”
The sirens are located at the dam, near Elk Falls, the old powerhouse, and downstream near the water intake for the former pulp and paper mill. All the siren locations will be upgraded as part of the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project.
“The most visible upgrade work will be seen at Deer Falls near Elk Falls as crews are beginning to access the area using the trails, and we will also be using helicopters to bring in two new poles and other equipment,” said Watson. “People will notice the activity and wonder what’s happening – hence this notice to the community.”
Temporary work activity awareness signage will be placed near the Elk Falls suspension bridge.
Four danger trees were removed this week to allow for the work to proceed, along with with other preparation works. The upgrade on the new siren system is scheduled to begin around Sept. 24, by John Hart project contractor InPower BC, and last for a few weeks. Trail flaggers will be in place as needed. No trail closures are expected.
“The new siren system will be more reliable and up to current public safety guidelines,” added Watson. “Water flow changes down Elk Falls Canyon or below the generating station can take place at any time, whether planned or unplanned, and it’s imperative to have a good siren system in place to properly warn people downstream.”
BC Hydro will continue to conduct the monthly John Hart spillway gate operational test and siren test once a month. The new siren system is planned to be put into service this fall.