Construction nears completion on Bala Falls hydro plant

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bala plant

Ontario Construction News staff writer

After nearly two years of construction, testing has begun on the new Bala Falls hydroelectric plant along Moon River, a facility that is expected to produce power for 4,000 homes.

“Members of the public and stakeholders can be assured that the testing procedures have been prepared by experts,” Swift River explained in a notice of testing. “Plans have been carefully developed with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ontario Power Generation.”

Daily variations in water flows will cause some fluctuation of water levels during testing for about three weeks.

The Ministry will continue to operate the Bala North and South Dam during this time.

During testing, the public is advised to exercise caution.

“SREL will monitor the vicinity of the Bala Generating Station and dams, but the public is requested to assist by remaining clear of the area immediately adjacent to the station during this period,” the notice advised.

The North Bala Small Hydro Project is a new 4.7 Megawatt (MW) run-of-river waterpower facility at the south end of Bala’s North Dam, located in the Town of Bala, Township of Muskoka Lakes, Ontario. The North Dam is owned by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

The project is expected to:

  • Improve water level and spring/fall flood control
  • Have low environmental impact due to synergy with existing structures
  • Annually offset 20,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 3,888 cars and light trucks off the road
  • Create over 80 new jobs during construction

Swift River has addressed safety concerns in the past with a statement:

“The risk inherent with boating, swimming etc. in this area will not change. The area immediately downstream of the North Bala Dam is currently designated as ‘no swimming’ and has been for a while.”

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