Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse Upgrade

Imagine a mechanic fixing the brakes and engine on your 1930’s vintage car while you’re driving it down the highway. From an engineering perspective that’s a fair analogy to describe the work that BC Hydro completed in early 2018 on the Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse in Mission, British Columbia. While completely upgrading the entire facility for over six years, we continued to generate electricity for our customers and meet our regulatory water flow requirements to avoid impact to the environment.

The upgrade included:

  • Replacing seven 30-tonne spillway gates and eight piers that were over 85 years old with five new 80-tonne spillway gates and six new piers
  • Replacing and refurbishing the original three 35 megawatt generating units
  • Replacing and relocating the original switchyard
  • A complete upgrade of all the facilities ancillaries and control systems.

A 40-metre long, 262,175-kilogram movable bulkhead had to be designed and installed on the dam to hold back the Hayward Reservoir as we replaced the spillway gates and piers in three different phases over three and a half years.

The new gates and piers are now designed to withstand a 1:10,000-year earthquake with multiple operational redundancies. And despite all the upgrades, the 1930’s heritage façade across the entire face of the powerhouse was preserved.

The Ruskin facility sits on the traditional territory of Kwantlen First Nation, and a number of archaeological sites were discovered during the project. In consultation with the First Nation, BC Hydro removed some artifacts and then contributed funds toward a new cultural repository for them. And the project redesigned one area to allow for a 9,000-year old site and its artifacts to remain in situ.

The upgraded Ruskin facility will now generate around 379 gigawatt hours of energy per year, enough to power over 30,000 homes.