Waneta expansion project reaches the halfway mark

The Waneta Dam expansion project is on time and on budget and has reached its halfway mark.

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The Waneta expansion project achieved a major milestone this summer: it has reached its halfway mark. The incredible $900-million project will see the construction of a 335-megawatt powerhouse downstream of the existing Waneta Dam.

According to Wally Penner, regional project manager with SNC-Lavalin Inc., the concrete deck over the tailrace (which will become the permanent roadway) is complete and work has commenced on the retaining walls and approaches on either end of the deck. The transformer bays are also complete and delivery of the 136-ton transformers is planned for September.

Both steel spiral cases that carry water to the water wheel (runner) have been fabricated and installation is complete. The spiral case for Unit 2 has been embedded in concrete. Finally, the transition form (transition from the concrete-lined tunnel to the steel spiral case) for Unit 1 is complete and work continues on the form for Unit 2 at the carpenter shop.

As for the intake, construction of the intake structure continues; this includes the transition forms from the intake to the tunnel.

All of these projects are progressing well, according to Penner, and are on time and on budget.

Watching the progress

A public viewing area across Highway 22A from the building site has been a huge hit this summer and will remain open until Remembrance Day.

"The public viewing area was constructed in 2010 to provide a safe place for the public to view construction and interpretive signage about the project," said Bree Seabrook, manager of communications with Columbia Power Corporation. "It has been an extremely popular place for locals and tourists to stop and (it) sees heavy traffic during the summer months. It overlooks the confluence of the Pend d’Oreille and Columbia rivers, providing great views in all directions.

"The viewing area is closed for the winter to protect public safety. It normally closes around Remembrance Day and reopens around Easter long weekend."

Fish enhancement

The Fort Shepherd Shallow Water Fish Habitat Enhancement Project will resume during the next low-water period, which is anticipated to occur this fall.

"As part of the project’s Environmental Assessment Certificate, Columbia Power is required to create additional shallow-water fish habitat," said Seabrook. "The Fort Shepherd Bar area, along Highway 22A, was selected based on a recommendation from Golder & Associates. The project includes recontouring the ground to minimize fish stranding caused by Columbia River water-level fluctuations. Environmental benefits include increasing fish habitat and removing contaminants from the Columbia River."

Community impact meetings

Coming up in September is the next Community Impact Management Committee (CIMC) meeting.

"During the 4½-year construction period, a Community Impact Management Committee (CIMC) meets on a monthly basis to provide ongoing support to encourage positive community impacts and benefits and relay community concerns resulting from construction of the project," said Penner. "The CIMC consists of local residents, members of local and regional government, First Nations and representatives from the owners and contractors."

The meetings take place at the construction site and include a tour of the progress and presentations on various elements of the project. Seabrook said the CIMC also works with an independent socio-economic monitor, who tracks the most significant expected impacts and any unanticipated impacts related to the construction of the project and produces quarterly and annual reports, which are available on Columbia Power’s website.

The plan

Looking ahead to the next six months, most of the civil work except for concrete finishing and minor structural work will be completed in the powerhouse.

The focus will be on:

• Installation of the two 136-ton transformers
• Completion of the concrete embedment of scroll case for Unit 1 and 2 permitting the beginning of the stator erection
• Completion of the east wall at the service bay
• Installation of the runner (water wheel) in Unit 2
• Complete sturgeon exclusion gates and tailrace gates, including the hoists at the powerhouse
• Complete cable trays switch gear installation in the powerhouse
• Complete control room and office complex structure at the south side of the powerhouse
• Overhead crane will commissioned and rated at full capacity 450 tons

The balance of plant work, mechanical and electrical, will be ongoing.

On August 13, 2013, Columbia Hydro Constructors (CHC) reported 299 enrolled workers. Of those, 72 per cent are local (within 100 kilometres). Equity workers currently make up 14 per cent of the CHC workforce and there are currently 28 apprentices enrolled on the project.

The project is expected to be completed in spring 2015 and is currently on budget.

Karen Kornelsen

Karen Kornelsen, a writer for Kootenay Business Magazine, has a degree in jounalism. She enjoys finding and reporting the news from the business community. View all of Karen Kornelsen’s articles

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