Canadian Consulting Engineer

First Nations and Manitoba Hydro collaborate on Wuskwatim Dam Project

Kiewit Corporation, the sole bidder for construction of the Wuskwatim Dam in Northern Manitoba, pulled out of the b...

February 1, 2008   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Kiewit Corporation, the sole bidder for construction of the Wuskwatim Dam in Northern Manitoba, pulled out of the bidding process in mid-January. Manitoba Hydro is now trying to find other construction companies to bid on different parts of the construction work.
The Wuskwatim project is an important landmark in the history of Canadian dams, because it is the first hydroelectric project to be developed by Manitoba Hydro in partnership with a First Nation. Historically, Aboriginal peoples have been opposed to many hydroelectricity projects in Canada because of the large-scale changes they cause to the land and natural environment.
The Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation has contracted with the utility to develop the Wuskwatim project, which should cost a total of $1.3 million. The partnership is called the Wuskwatim Power Limited Partnership.
The engineering design for the massive $1.2- billion dam on the Burntwood River southwest of Thompson was done by Acres Manitoba and KGS Group of Winnipeg. A 48-kilometre all weather road to the site is already under construction, and a site is being prepared for a camp of 650 workers.
The main dam is to be an earth and rock-fill embankment, 333 metres long and with a maximum height of 14 metres above its foundation and a 9 metre-wide crest. Once constructed, the dam will cause a half square kilometre of flooding.
The powerhouse is located at Taskinigup Falls southeast of Wuskwatim Lake. It will reach 57 metres above the structure’s foundation and will be approximately 120 metres long. It will have three generating units, capable of producing 200 megawatts.
About 300 workers are currently employed building the access road and doing other preparatory work, with Aboriginal workers making up 73 per cent of the work force. The projected completion date is 2012.


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