BC Hydro officials, contractors, First Nations and fish and game stakeholders were given a tour of the restored Salmon River flow at the former diversion dam site.

A river flows where once a dam stood

BC Hydro restores Salmon River flow after decommissioning dam

BC Hydro and contractor Kwikw Construction achieved a big milestone at the Salmon River Diversion Decommissioning Project by restoring the river flow to a location it hasn’t seen since 1958.

There’s now a free flowing river where a dam once stood.

“We were very cognisant of the fisheries instream work window and having the river flow in the middle of the river by Sept. 15,” says BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “We achieved that goal with a few days to spare, though some site work will continue through September and into October. Everyone involved is so proud of their roles, big or small, in making this happen.”

The river flow was formally restored and water flowing down the channel at about 11 p.m. on Sunday night.

“There was a lot of cheering and some emotional moments when that water was fully released and on its own course down the restored riverbed,” says Watson. “Our staff and our contractor crews put a great deal of time and effort to make this happen this summer.”

Most of the rock used for the riverbed reconstruction came from the tunnels and rock blasting from the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project.

The restored river flow was also good timing as on Monday, BC Hydro invited some of the community members that have been involved with fish passage concerns at the Salmon River dam for the last 10 years. Representatives from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations, the Campbell River Salmon Foundation and the Sayward Fish and Game Club took in the site and saw the dam removed and the river restored for the first time.

“Being involved with this facility for about 17 years and in working, along with so many other people within BC Hydro, with the community on the ongoing fish passage concerns at this facility, it was certainly a feel good moment on Monday,” says Watson. “It also helped that there were already three migrating coho in the new pool on Monday and ready to move upstream.”

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The natural flow of water through the restored bed of the Salmon River bed was released Sunday at the site of the decomissioned Salmon River diversion dam.