DAMS OF THE COLUMBIA BASIN

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Brilliant Dam

KOOTENAY RIVER AT CASTLEGAR

QUICK FACTS
Brilliant Dam
Completed: 1944
Operator: West Kootenay Power & Light (FortisBC)
Type: Concrete gravity

HISTORY

Constructed during WWII when lead and zinc were in high demand for the war effort and all of the other West Kootenay Power generators on the Kootenay River were working to capacity, the No. 5 Plant was completed and online in June of 1944. Construction crews consisted of many local Doukhobor men who were militarily-exempt. They provided 60% of the workforce during the project.

Since equipment and machinery were in high demand during the war, permission for the project was not granted until September, 1942. Heavy snow in the winter of 1943 and sustained high water levels that spring delayed the project by a further six months.

The dam is 42.6 metres high (140 feet) and spanned the width of the river, had a head of 28 metres (92 feet) and came online with two turbines in operation. The dam has eight sluice gates and four operating units.

In 2003, the Columbia Power Corporation began the Brilliant Expansion, an improvement to utilize the excess water beyond the capacity of the original plant. The excess water that spills through the sluice gates will be diverted through a tunnel south of the existing plant, passed through the turbine and discharged below the outlet of the dam. This will result in increased power generation during high water and less spillage, resulting in healthier fish habitat downstream.


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Brilliant Dam
Brilliant Dam

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Brilliant Dam Diving
Brilliant Dam Diving

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Brilliant Dam
Brilliant Dam

Brilliant Dam, spilling from almost all of its gates.
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