An Aquedam for BC Hydro’s Site C ?

pont_du_gard_oct_2007An Aquedam for BC Hydro’s Site C ?
Could a modified design prevent generations of market jitters?

Hydroelectric dam engineers face an incredible dilemma. Hydro dams generate renewable energy but destroy natural ecosystems. Forcing government to make a hard choice, often presented as: ‘developing the renewable energy supply’ vs. ‘protecting and sustaining the ecosystem’. In British Columbia, the contentious “Big Dam/Big Lake” Site C design produces the same dilemma. It will produce irrevocable ecosystem damage, but might go ahead if courts accept the provincial argument that energy supply and future export sales are more important [Note 1]. Objectors are taking the case to higher courts, and the Province is moving forward; pushed by political pressures to force a fait accompli – a locked-in project – on the federal court, despite the court’s demonstrated willingness to block projects of similar magnitude. We could wait to see what happens. But is this prudent?

What if a modified design removes the conflict?
Could it create incentive for a new dam partnership?
Could the partnership – of former opponents – grandfather all approvals done to date?


Aquedam Concept: David Huer
Solidworks Drawings: Matej Borovec

An aqueduct atop bridge piers, with penstocks, turbines, and generators located inside each pier. Sourcing water from a higher elevation upstream, through a pipeline, to an elevated feeder pond at the design-height needed to achieve proper head, for feeding down into powerhouses spaced across the river.

site-map2Inspired by Roman aqueducts, British Columbia’s open-lattice railroad bridges, and the magnificent curved structures of London, England’s tidal barrier.

10oct2016-inspired-videosCould this design …
Achieve the same head elevation and power production as a “big wall” design, without destroying the valley economy, treaty lands, businesses, farms, and natural ecosystem?

Aquedam Front ViewRight Angled View






And elsewhere? Could the design be as10-34-5026useful where dam designers face the same dilemma?

Growing return-on-investment. Avoiding decades of costly volatility – legal, political, and armed conflict – for hundreds of future hydroelectric projects across British Columbia, across Canada and around the world.

* Any engineering company worth its salt understands the business opportunity.
* Insurers, financiers, investors and bond markets will value the minimized risk.
* Local people will save their valleys, their treaty rights, wetlands, forests, and farms.
* Contractors and vendors get their construction jobs, fed by the farmers in the valley.
* And utilities will get their exportable power.


Aquedam Transparent View






British Columbia’s challenge, now, is that we may need a particular type of leadership.

Leaders who can switch directions. Leaders who simultaneously lead for the betterment of local ridings and industry and the Province and the Nation. For now, and for future generations.

This may be the biggest challenge – Asking our leaders to put political capital on the table.

But what if they could?

logo-bchydroNote 1: BC Hydro will expropriate and flood 80 km of forests, farms and homes, and 7,000 acres of Class 1 and 2 agriculture land.

meeting-pixels-com-cc0Note 2: Project Management steps could include:

* Site C – site approved;
* Site C – works completed to date – approved;
* Site C – all associated construction and works continue;
* The Court acts as a neutral body managing pre-design negotiations;
* Sheriffs of the Court administer adherence to agreement;
* Dam Re-design & Pipeline Design – pre-agreed by stakeholders with standing;
* All other existing Site C studies and approvals grandfathered into agreement;
* Stakeholders establish Dam & Pipeline “Redesign Delivery” target due date;
* Stakeholders establish Dam & Pipeline “Construction Start” target due date;
* BC Hydro issues new design upgrade contract tenders;
* Construction, with new design, commences at or near Construction Start target date;
* BC Hydro and Destination BC commence world-wide campaign to teach the new design.


Logos on Dam: Included as part of public policy commentary and assumed to be a fair use application. Please advise with a message through my linkedin page whether a logo should be removed.

London Barrier: By mattbuck (category) (Own work by mattbuck.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Pont du Gard, Roman Empire: 14 October 2007, 10:07:27, Author: Emanuele. This image, which was originally posted to, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 23:55, 13 February 2012 (UTC) by Prioryman (talk). On that date it was licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

CPR bridge (black) in foreground, CNR bridge (orange arch) in background (with CPR train on it): Photo facing upriver. By Michael Frei (Michael Frei) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Earth image: Astronaut Photograph AS10-34-5026. NASA. Public Domain.

Meeting: via Creative Commons-CC0 License

Rethinking BC Hydro’s Site C

Site C’s “Big Dam/Big Lake” design promises irrevocable damage but might go ahead. Is the civil engineering Code of Ethics a root cause for this wicked dilemma?


BC Hydro’s proposed $8 billion dam will expropriate and flood 80 km of forests, farms and homes, and 7,000 acres of Class 1 and 2 agriculture land—ignoring impact to farming, and animal migration corridors, while strip-mining the local tax base that communities need to provide public services.

Could a new conversation solve this wicked dilemma?

BC Hydro is chock-full of iron-ringed civil engineers who pride themselves on being able to create a great solution.  Could we challenge them to find new thinking and the latest technologies to build a better solution?

And then to ask…if BC Hydro can get equivalent power value with a sustainable solution, but refuses to change the existing Site C plan, are civil engineers being required to focus on a Big Dam solution vs. a Sustainable Energy solution (energy in all its forms)?

Premier Clark courageously introduced the Community Contribution Company (C3) framework to give companies a legal framework to pursue a “wider-society” approach: “Designed to bridge the gap between for-profit businesses and non-profit enterprises, this innovative business model is the first of its kind in Canada. C3 status allows entrepreneurs in B.C. to pursue social goals through their businesses while still generating a profit and providing investment opportunities to like-minded investors.” 

Should BC Hydro become BC Energy? And can we require all Crown Corporations to follow the C3 framework? Can we find the same all-Party courage to reflect these new responsibilities – with an upgraded APEG Code of Ethics for C3 Corporations?

For example, using the C3 Code of Ethics option, could one option be a revised Site C in the Moberly River side valley?  Are there better civil engineering solutions? 

Moberly River marine aqueduct

Concept: Moberly River marine aqueduct across the Peace Valley (Google Earth x3 vertical exaggeration)

sir-adam-beck-stationOntario’s Sir Adam Beck Station obtains water through a canal from the upper Niagara River.  Could Site C obtain sufficient head supplied with a pipeline or canal from the Peace Dam to a Moberly River head-pond?

  • • Separating industrial/commercial traffic from Peace River’s ecology
  • • Aqueduct connection between Fort St. John and the headpond
  • • Creating a riverboat/rail tourist season with access to Williston Lake
  • • Using daily-night cycle of demand fluctuations to:
    • o Move water at low cost to top-of-slope reservoirs
    • o Supply irrigation waters to river terraces
    • o Supply barge locks


Or do we need Site C, if it makes more ecological sense to obtain the same hydro-electric production . . . by building a reservoir in the headland depressions east of Williston Lake’s W.A.C. Bennett Dam; with hydroelectric spillways falling to the Peace River above and below the lower Peace Dam?

Dave Huer








dhuer-site-c-revisioning-oct2014-p2Original PDF concept here