A combination of mechanical failure and planned maintenance at the Spray hydroelectric facility has resulted in water being diverted into Goat Creek.
TransAlta public affairs manager Glen Whelan said residents and visitors of the area should be aware that Goat Creek will be experiencing significantly increased flows as a result.
“It is important to remember this relatively moderate water release down Goat Creek is a precautionary measure to make sure we maintain water volumes in the Spray Reservoir, " Whelan said, adding the company has put up signage in the area and along Goat Creek Trail.
The Spray hydroelectric plant operates with two units and Whelan said one was down for scheduled servicing and maintenance when the second failed on May 23.
“Water has essentially stopped flowing through that facility at the Spray Reservoir, " he said. “Without an outlet to reduce that water level, water would rise and there is a theoretical risk of uncontrolled releases.
“In order to minimize water levels at the Spray Reservoir, we have redirected water through Goat Creek. "
Given the substantial snowpack and expected spring run-off the diversion is necessary. The creek could see flows of up to 250 cubic feet per second compared to its usual 20 to 60 cubic feet per second as a result.
The Spray facility is one of three on the Spray System, which is part of the Bow River Electric System. Whelan said there is flexibility within that system to have water go through the Goat Pond culverts.
He added it is not something that is done all the time, but it is not atypical for the system.
“We expect the unit that is down for regular maintenance will be back up again around Aug. 1, " Whelan said, adding the cause of the failed unit is being looked into. “This is one of those failures our engineers will have to look at to assess the cause. "