North Saskatchewan River levels to rise after release at Bighorn Dam


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A higher, faster water flow is expected in the North Saskatchewan River after Thursday when TransAlta releases water from its Bighorn Dam to manage high water elevation in Lake Abraham.

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TransAlta said in a news release it advises those who make use of the river downstream should be aware of the higher, faster water levels and that the river may contain more debris than usual.

“TransAlta’s first priority is the safety and well-being of employees, the public and the communities where we live and work,” said Scott Taylor, chief engineer, dam safety, in the release.

“The public is asked to remain clear of all waterways immediately upstream and downstream of the facility as flows may change rapidly without notice. Increased water volumes and fast flowing debris will present an elevated risk level to any river users during this period.”

The river flows are expected to increase over several days, reaching approximately 175 m³/s. TransAlta says this speed similar to what is experienced during spring melt.

The spillway flows into the river west of Nordegg and the dam is approximately 330 kilometres from Edmonton.

An ongoing maintenance outage at the generating station along with high spring inflows has made the release necessary, according to TransAlta.

TransAlta’s hydro operations team is working with the provincial government to restrict access around Bighorn Dam and the surrounding area to allow the water release to proceed safely. Signage, conservation officers and TransAlta staff will be asking the public to avoid the area for safety reasons.