Kootenay Canal

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Along the Kootenay River, between Nelson and Castlegar, a canal diverts water to BC Hydro's Kootenay Canal Generating Station. Running parallel to the canal is a gentle, level walking trail.

Access and directions

Need directions? View a map of BC Hydro recreation areas and get specific directions to the Kootenay Canal Generating Station, west of Nelson and northeast of Castlegar, along the Kootenay River.

Find out about recreation area closures and restrictions.

History and hydroelectric operation

Construction of Kootenay canal power development on the south side of Kootenay River, about midway between Nelson and Castlegar, began in the fall of 1971 and was completed in 1976.

Design flow is 765 cubic m (27,000 cubic feet) per second with maximum water velocity at design flow two m (seven feet) per second. Construction required excavation of some 2.7 million cubic m (3.5 million cubic yards) of overburden and 1.4 million cubic m (1.8 million cubic yards) of rock.

Throughout the entire construction period, Hydro emphasized to all contractors the importance of protecting the natural environment. Minimal disruption of land, water, fish and wildlife was an overriding consideration in all planning.

To restore the site to harmony with the natural surroundings as rapidly as possible, Hydro landscaped and reseeded work areas adjacent to the canal that were disrupted during construction. More than 20,000 trees native to the area have since been planted.

Power first became available in the fall of 1975, when two 132,300 kW generating units were placed in service. Two units of similar capacity were put in service in 1976, bringing the total nameplate capacity to 529,200 kW.

Since the original construction, BC Hydro's Resource Smart program has added another 51 MW of capacity to the powerhouse, for a total of 580,000 kW.

The powerhouse houses four vertical shaft turbine-generator units. The generators are directly coupled to the turbines. Power generated at Kootenay Canal plant is fed into BC Hydro's provincial grid via two 230 kV transmission lines running south to Selkirk Switching Station, near the Seven Mile Generating Station.

Kootenay River Bridge is 0.8 km upstream of the powerhouse and provides access to canal, powerhouse and switchyard. It is a permanent, three-span, two-lane structure of post-tensioned concrete construction, 195 m (638 feet) long and 10 m (32 feet) wide which was built for the project and later turned over to the Ministry of Highways.

Water from the Kootenay River enters the canal from Corra Linn headpond and returns to the river at South Slocan after passing through the canal and powerhouse.