The City of Prince Rupert announced that all of the works to replace the Woodworth Dam are now complete – and the City has returned to its primary water source at Woodworth Lake.

“This final return of the City to our original water supply marks the end of one of the biggest infrastructure endeavours the City has seen in recent history,” said Mayor Herb Pond. “This project was no small undertaking, and it’s a credit to the former Mayor and Council as well as staff that we were able to see it through, despite challenges along the way.”

“The Government of Canada is proud to see the completion of work on the Woodworth Dam,” said the Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada. “This has been a major undertaking for the City, helping them to improve their water quality and return to their primary water source. We will continue to work with our partners to build more sustainable, resilient, and vibrant communities across British Columbia.”

“I want to congratulate the City of Prince Rupert on one of its largest-ever infrastructure projects. It will ensure access for the community to its primary water source for many years to come,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “Upgrading and replacing aging infrastructure adds stability to our communities, helps enhance quality of life, and I look forward to the second phase of this project.”

The dam project was funded in part by the Canadian Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF), with the Federal government dedicating $4,295,000, the Province $2,834,700, and the remainder covered by the City through dividends from Prince Rupert Legacy Inc. and borrowing.

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The City would noted to the community that this switchover may not mean an immediate change in turbidity/colour, due to an increase to the overall lake height, which has introduced new sediment into Woodworth Lake.

“Although, overall things are trending positively, we do not anticipate a drastic change in the water quality with the switch, as the wetted parameter of the Woodworth reservoir basin has increased, and so has the influx of sediments because of it,“ said Richard Pucci, Director of Operations and Intergovernmental Affairs. “Due to these changes, the community may not see the benefits of cleaner, clearer water until into the summer when the weather calms and the reservoir settles out.”

The structure of the dam was completed in October, following several delays along the way related to supply chain issues tied to the pandemic, and two major weather-related landslides that blocked access for construction. Following the completion of the dam structure in the fall, the City’s contractors experienced some delays in obtaining materials needed to reconnect to the Woodworth Lake supply, and additional works were needed to ready the dormant new supply line for service.

The City is still in the engineering phase of the next phase of our water infrastructure replacement efforts – a water treatment facility – and is currently exploring our options for operating models. Updates will be provided to the community regarding the treatment phase of our water infrastructure as they are available.

Featured image: Pictured  is the complete spillway for the Woodworth Dam, which was finished in the fall and is now fully operational. (City of Prince Rupert)

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