COURTENAY, B.C. – BC Hydro is starting work this month to provide a new protective coating on its steel penstock beside the Puntledge River.

The exterior work is expected to last 14 months.

Workers will be starting on the upper end of the penstock, and then working their way down to the powerhouse.

There is now no public access to the south side of the penstock corridor, from the Duncan Bay Main Line to near the Puntledge River Diversion Dam for the rest of the year.

All other areas of the penstock corridor will stay open this year.

“The recoating work will extend the life of the penstock by decades,” BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson said.

“This includes stripping and recoating the external above ground coating including trenching to repair the transition to the protective coating for the buried section. During this work, we have a designated construction zone, on the south side of the penstock on the upper end, with no public access. Signage is being put in place and we appreciate people’s understanding – safety is everyone’s highest priority.”

BC Hydro says the rest of the penstock corridor will remain open, though the public is reminded it is an operational zone.

There are no motorcycles or ATVs allowed.

When the work shifts from the Duncan Bay Main Line to the powerhouse area in 2020 Hydro will provide notice of the areas of the penstock corridor to be temporarily closed off.

The Comox Valley Regional District will also be doing work along the south side of the penstock corridor as early as this fall with tree clearing, and public access closures will be in place.

In 2020, the CVRD will begin placing a new water main along the penstock corridor, near and within the south BC Hydro property line.

There will also be some work to remove moss on the woodstave penstocks, and that work will start in the fall.