LaJoie Dam improvement project
We’re in the early planning stages of the LaJoie Dam (LAJ) Improvement Project.
After a detailed review, we've identified the leading alternative: improve dam to full reservoir level.
Virtual open house
We hosted a virtual public open house on March 1 from 6p.m. to 7p.m. where we shared more information on the leading alternative and next steps [PDF, 2.0 MB].
About the project
We’re making significant capital investments in the Bridge River system facilities. LaJoie Dam is at the top of the Bridge river system and significantly influences the watershed. Parts of the dam are nearing the end of their life and need upgrades to ensure the facility continues to operate safely.
For more than a year, we’ve worked with St’at’imc Nation, stakeholders, and the public to evaluate the following alternatives for a leading alternative for the project:
- Do nothing
- Improve dam to a lower reservoir level
- Improve dam to full reservoir level
After a detailed review, we identified the leading alternative: improve dam to full reservoir level. This alternative includes working with St’at’imc Nation to review future operational options and regimes that could maximize the overall environmental benefits to upstream wildlife and downstream fish habitats. We’re currently working on identifying the upgrade options for the various aspects of the project.
For next steps, we expect drawing down the Downton Reservoir this spring to allow for approximately one week of site investigations. This work will help us prepare for the drawdown required for us to begin construction and includes test pitting and geotechnical drilling, an assessment of environmental impacts and cultural heritage studies.
In 2015, we adjusted dam operations to mitigate seismic risks by reducing Downton Reservoir’s maximum elevation from 750m to 734m. This lowered the reservoir’s storage capacity by approximately one-half, reducing ability to buffer large inflows into the LaJoie basin, which effects flows throughout the Bridge system.
The LaJoie Dam Improvement Project will address dam safety risks related to ageing and seismic vulnerabilities. By restoring full capacity of Downton Reservoir, the project will re-establish operating flexibility for the benefit of fish and fish habitat throughout the Bridge-Seton watersheds, and meet commitments to St’át’imc Nation.
BC Hydro's Bridge River system is about 300 km north of Vancouver and includes of the Lajoie Dam and Powerhouse (Downton Reservoir) near Goldbridge.
Based on early design work, low water levels in Downton Reservoir will be needed for the project. Construction at LaJoie is expected to begin in 2027 with targeted completion in 2032.
Early planning estimates show the project will significantly exceed the $100 million threshold for projects requiring regulatory approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission.
Environmental impact studies are underway, and considerations will be shared with stakeholders as they are available.
Reports and documents
- Bridge River newsletter – Winter 2023 [PDF, 3.2 MB]
- Bridge River capital projects update, SLRD – December 2022 [PDF, 1.2 MB]
- LaJoie Dam Improvement Project, Lillooet open house [PDF, 1.4 MB]
If you'd like to learn more about the project, please contact us at:
Toll free: 1 866 647 3334