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BC Hydro improving Puntledge River hydroelectric system

BC Hydro will soon be enhancing the Puntledge River hydroelectric system.

The Comox Dam spillway gates, fish screens, water valves and Puntledge Diversion Dam intake gates will all be improved.

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2024 and cost as much as $47 million.

“I’ve been following BC Hydro’s Puntledge River operations and capital projects for over 20 years,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox, in a news release.

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“I recently had a tour of the hydroelectric system and was reminded of the importance of the facilities and their function, along with BC Hydro’s ongoing focus on significant community social and environmental water use interests, and this will be another significant investment to keep the system safe and reliable.”

BC Hydro is hoping the work will be finished by early 2026.

“There is high recreational use along the Puntledge River with swimming, tubing and sunbathing, and then in the fall and winter there’s a big focus on flood risk management as we deal with large storm events hitting the area,” said BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson in the release.

“So whether it’s July and there’s perhaps 500 people along the river system between the Comox Dam and the estuary, or it’s December when we’re adjusting flows from the two spillway gates at the Comox Dam to respond to high ocean tides and a storm event, we require our equipment to operate dependably.”

“Our facilities need to operate as intended, and that includes minimizing or even preventing the chance of an unplanned flow event from our facilities to protect public safety and fish habitat, and being able to safely hold back or release water downstream as operationally needed during storm events.”

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