Safety improvements apace after 2020 deaths near British Columbia’s Cleveland Dam

Engineers are upgrading short- and long-term emergency warning systems and an emergency override.

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Safety improvements at Cleveland Dam are on schedule and should be fully implemented by 2026, according to a report prepared for Metro Vancouver’s regional parks committee.

The improvements, begun in 2017 but upgraded in 2021 following the drowning deaths of a father and son in 2020, include a temporary public alarm system that has been installed at six points with flashing beacons and sirens in case of emergency.

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Additionally, the reliability of the dam’s mechanical and control systems has been improved, along with additional warning signs placed along the river banks.

A long-term warning system is being developed and will begin installation next year after the interim system is analyzed.

“We are using information from the existing interim system to understand how sound travels along the river where there are points where there is no sound and inform the permanent system,” said Daniel Roberge, Metro’s deputy general manager of operations. Vancouver Water Services.

“Once it is in place, we also intend to install a similar system along the Seymour River.”

Vancouver’s North Highlands resident Ryan Nickerson was 11 days shy of turning 62, and his son Hugh was 27, when water was accidentally released from the dam on Oct. 1, 2020, sweeping the two away. fishermen.

Four others were also swept away by the torrent, but managed to reach dry land safely.

Three workers were fired as a result of the unscheduled release of water that caused a four-metre rise in the water level that killed the two men.

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Friends of a man who died after being swept away by a massive surge of water that had been released from the Clevland Dam on the Capilano River, line a bridge south of the Capilano Fish Hatchery in North Vancouver in October 2020 . Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

The Cleveland Dam was built in 1954, with a 100-metre-high spillway and dam holding back water from the 670-acre lake behind it, one of three reservoirs that supply drinking water to Metro Vancouver.

Two lower level outlet valves that were installed when the dam was built have been replaced with 1.4 meter diameter stainless steel valves. They are crucial for controlling the release of water from the dam during severe winter storms, the report says, and will be further upgraded with flow containment “hoods,” to allow for greater reliability of control on both high-flow releases and in the lows.

The valves can also be controlled to minimize damage to fish and provide downstream flow releases during late summer and fall droughts to “encourage the migration of adult salmon upstream.”

Additionally, a reliability analysis of the emergency override system that was installed in 2021 will be published this year.

Even experienced kayakers and rescue volunteers warn of how quickly conditions can change and the countless dangers between the dam and Burrard Inlet.

Water levels can quickly rise up to five metres, Roberge said.

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“It’s a beautiful place, many members of the public and First Nations use the area,” he said. “But there are risks associated with being next to the river. “We want the public to always be aware of the water level because it can break very quickly.”

And it’s a good idea to download an app called Alertablewhich as its name implies sends alerts to your mobile device in case of emergency, Roberge said.

“There are some places where our signage advises people not to go because there are known places where the river can rise very quickly,” he said. “Places where there is a kind of ravine and some members of the public pass the security fences that the regional park has put up.

“People do that at their own risk.”

Officials don’t want people to stop enjoying the river, Roberge said.

“We’re just trying to make sure people know the dangers once they get there.”

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Metro Vancouver is trying to improve safety at the Cleveland Dam following an accidental release of water that killed a man and his son in 2020. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10103735A

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