BC Hydro to decommission dam to allow fish passage
BC Hydro plans to decommission the Wilsey Dam and Shuswap Falls Powerhouse on the Shuswap River. This will allow salmon access to historical spawning habitat in the river.
“After extensive community involvement and our own studies, we have selected decommissioning the dam and powerhouse as the best way forward to restore the river to its original channel for spawning salmon,” says Jen Walker-Larsen, Community Engagement Advisor, BC Hydro.
The facility was built in 1929 and represents less than 0.1 per cent of BC Hydro’s total hydroelectric generating capacity. BC Hydro explored two options to restore fish passage in the area. The first option included refurbishing the aging facility and constructing a fishway channel. The second option was decommissioning the facility entirely.
After careful consideration and working closely with Indigenous groups and stakeholders to better understand their perspectives and input, BC Hydro has selected decommissioning the dam and powerhouse as the leading alternative.
“Decommissioning instead of refurbishing will return that portion of the river to its original channel,” adds Walker-Larsen. “We expect this will provide a higher chance of achieving successful fish passage as it will create river conditions similar to what existed before the dam was built.”
BC Hydro will advance planning for decommissioning and prepare an application to the BC Utilities Commission to obtain approval to cease operations at the facility. BC Hydro expects to complete both of these items within the next 12 to 18 months.