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Dam project discussed

Representatives from Fortis gave a presentation on the proposed dam on the Similkameen River to the RDOS board on Thursday.

The project on the river near Princeton is expected to cost anywhere from $350 to $400 million. If everything falls into place, construction would start in the summer of 2018, with a proposed inservice date of summer 2020.

Bob Gibney, senior manager of corporate services and aboriginal affairs for Fortis, stressed the project is in the preliminary talks stage at this time.

The presentation itself covered information on Fortis Inc., the parent company for FortisBC, which is doing the project, as well as an overview.

It would be located 15 kilometres south of Princeton and Highway 3 going towards Hope.

The dam itself would be 165 metres high, 541 feet, and 500 metres; 1,640 feet, wide, with a reservoir of 20 kilometres and would create 154,000 square feet of annual storage.

It will be built using rolled compacted concrete with an un-gated spillway for flood control.

Among the project benefits would be water shaping to improve water availability to downstream users, flood risk reduction downstream and on Osoyoos Lake, less flow variety that would produce a reliable water source to the region during the summer months, potential water quality improvements and base load renewable hydro generation.

The environmental assessment phase will be a 2.5 year process and the goal is to be open and transparent throughout.

Board members asked several questions, following the presentation, ranging from concerns about how First Nations fit into the picture, the scope of the construction, impact on the environment, the amount of power generated and the benefits to the region.

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells stressed while Osoyoos will benefit, an article on Wednesday in The Globe and Mail stated the Similkameen is the third endangered river in BC.

According to information released by the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia, five waterways have been placed on the 2014 endangered rivers list, including the Similkameen.

Further information is available on the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia website.

Fortis has stressed it is its goal to work with communities to ensure a positive and mutually beneficial relationship.



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