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Cheakamus system

Cheakamus facility
Daisy Lake Dam as seen from the Cheakamus River near Squamish/ BC Hydro

What's new

We’re preparing Daisy Lake Dam for fall and winter weather, potentially bringing larger inflows. We’ll be monitoring forecasts closely over the season, adjusting our operations as these inflows influence the Cheakamus River.

Fall operations at Daisy Lake Dam

Starting November 1, we’lll be reducing flows, known as a rampdown, from Daisy Lake Dam to the Cheakamus River.

This rampdown is not related to storm season. It’s one of the tools we use to manage flows to continue to meet our Water Use Plan requirements through the winter months. We notify local First Nations, regulators, and key stakeholders when rampdowns occur on the Cheakamus River.

This rampdown schedule will include several small reductions over the course of the first week, followed by one additional reduction the following week. Water levels will be reduced at a slow rate over a long period to help protect fish in the river at this time of year. Our timeline considers current conditions in addition to operating constraints.

Fish monitoring crews will be on hand, focusing on both juvenile and spawning salmon before the rampdown and as it progresses.

Summer strategy maintained fish flows during drought

Cheakamus flows remained steady during the drought and record low precipitation experienced in the Sea-to-Sky area earlier this fall. This is a result of our system strategy that began in August. This helped maintain flows for fish.

Operations on the Cheakamus system has been in collaboration with First Nations, regulators and our key stakeholders as BC Hydro continues to work within this dynamic river system.

Cheakamus system map

Daisy Lake Dam impounds water flowing south from the headwaters of the Cheakamus River in Daisy Lake Reservoir for diversion through a tunnel that runs through Cloudburst Mountain to the Cheakamus Generating Station on the Squamish River. Water is released from the dam down a 26 kilometre stretch of Cheakamus River to its confluence with the Squamish River.

BC Hydro works to upgrade and maintain existing assets like the facilities in the Cheakamus system so that our customers continue to receive reliable and clean electricity. There are currently a number of projects in the system including:

  • Penstock Recoating
  • Replacement of Turbine Inlet Valves
  • Units 1&2 Generator Replacement
  • Instrumentation Upgrade

We’re undertaking a Water Use Plan (WUP) Order Review as the final step in implementing B.C.’s Water Use Plan Guidelines. The WUP Order Review is intended to determine whether the ordered water management constraints on our operations are achieving the specific environmental and social objectives identified in each facility’s WUP Order, and recommend how the Order may be modified or sustained for future operations.

BC Hydro developed Water Use Plans (WUPs) for most of our hydroelectric generation facilities between 1999 and 2004. The goal of water use planning was to find a better balance between competing uses of water which are environmentally, socially, and economically acceptable to British Columbians. WUPs were developed through a consultative planning process involving government agencies, First Nations, local citizens, and other affected groups. WUPs were implemented by a Water Act Order issued by the B.C. Comptroller of Water Rights (CWR).

Following observations of higher than anticipated numbers of stranded juvenile salmon in August 2018, BC Hydro committed to implementing the Cheakamus Adaptive Stranding Protocol (CASP) to study the effects of flow reductions on the Cheakamus River, and implement recommendations to mitigate impacts.

The study's objectives include:

  • to better understand the risk of fish stranding on the Lower Cheakamus River,
  • to test the effectiveness of different mitigation measures during those types of operations that may strand fish, and
  • to identify effective fish stranding mitigation options for consideration for long-term implementation.

Since the implementation of the CASP in fall 2018, BC Hydro has deployed fish monitoring crews on the Cheakamus River during planned flow reductions.

Read the CASP Year 1 Study

Read the interim report

The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations, and public stakeholders to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by the footprint of existing BC Hydro dams.

Since 1999 more than $3M has been spent on 41 projects in the Cheakamus River Watershed. This includes 30 projects related to fish.

Additional information about the FWCP

The FWCP is funded by BC Hydro and compensates for the historical impacts to fish, wildlife and their supporting habitats affected by generation facilities. In the past 5 years, the program has invested $1.1M in habitat-enhancing projects in the Cheakamus River Watershed.

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