Recreation and Hydroelectric Stations Don't Mix Says Ontario Utility

With warm weather just around the corner, Canadians are starting to think about getting out more to enjoy the great outdoors – whether it’s a walk in the park, taking a canoe trip, or hiking along a woodland trail. But the one place you don’t want to get too close to in the summer – or any time of the year – is a hydroelectric station or dam.

“Hydroelectric dams, stations, shorelines and surrounding waterways are not recreational areas,” says Tony Bennett, Director of Dam Safety and Emergency Preparedness at Ontario Power Generation (OPG). “If you don’t keep your distance, they can be dangerous.”

Many of these facilities are remotely controlled by operators based many kilometers away and require significant amounts of water to generate electricity for Ontario’s needs. As demand for power rises and falls, the operators open and close dams and start and stop turbines on a frequent basis. This often results in sudden and rapid changes to water levels and flows – posing a serious threat to anyone who ventures too close. The risk is especially great in areas above and below the dams and hydroelectric stations. As water rushes in and out of stations and dams, it can quickly turn a secluded boating or fishing area or a dry river bed into a river or lake with dangerous flows.

OPG has a major Water Safety Program to warn and inform people about these and similar risks. The company has installed buoys, signs, booms and fencing at its hydroelectric sites and audible warnings at some sites which provide an additional warning. People should obey all warning devices. In addition, OPG has distributed thousands of public water safety brochures, videos, children’s computer games and posters to target groups – including 1,250 schools – across the province.

To get a FREE Stay Clear, Stay Safe, video, children’s computer game or brochure e-mail Ontario Power Generation at watersafety@opg.com

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Hydroelectric stations and dams are dangerous places if you get too close. Areas that seem quiet and safe one minute can be transformed within seconds into frightening and hazardous environments as hydroelectric stations and dams can cause water levels and flows to change -- often without warning.


This article was taken from page 42 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Spring 2004 Issue

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