Safety around dams

Our hydroelectric dams or generating facilities offer affordable energy for our customers, as well as a variety of public recreational opportunities. Yet public safety is our top priority. Here you’ll learn what to look for and how to stay safe as you enjoy the lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams of the Kootenays.

How to stay safe

On beautiful sunny days, a local lake or river is a great place to play or unwind. Some rivers and reservoirs (an artificial lake formed by a dam) are very popular for swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking or just floating about on inflatables. So what’s the dam problem?

Underwater photo showing two people floating on inner tubes with legs dangling in water.

Simple. Where there’s water, there’s inherent danger, including the risk of drowning.

And where there are dams, there’s the inherent risk of hazards. It’s easy to be unaware of the dangers or to underestimate the risk to your safety.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe while you enjoy your water recreation:

  • Obey all warning signs and respect fenced, marked and gated areas, including those that indicate Private Property. They’re there for a reason – to keep you out and everyone safe.
  • Supervise children at all times, and keep pets on a leash.
  • Stay a safe distance from waterways that could have unstable footing or slippery banks.

On the water

If you choose to go out on the water near a dam, here are a few other things to remember:

  • Stay outside of safety booms, markers and buoys in the water above and below a dam.
  • Be aware. Water levels can rise or fall quickly without warning, on a daily basis throughout the year, since we use the flow of water to generate electricity.
  • Watch for concealed hazards. Floating debris can accompany water level changes, especially in shallow shoreline areas.
  • Know your boating safety. Don’t stand or tie/anchor your boat below a dam since rapid and unexpected changes in water flows and levels can create significant hazards. Boaters must also adhere to all regulations of the Canadian Coast Guard.
  • Think twice about ice. In winter, changing water levels and currents around dams and stations can cause gaps to form under the frozen surface of reservoirs and rivers. So avoid activities like snowmobiling, skating, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and walking on ice.

About our dams

We’ve operated and maintained hydroelectric power facilities in British Columbia for the past 100 years.

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The Lower Bonnington Dam is located on the Kootenay river approximately 18 km southwest of Nelson.


We own and operate four hydroelectric dams on the Kootenay River: the Corra Linn, Upper Bonnington, Lower Bonnington and South Slocan.

We also operate five additional generating plants owned by others (the Waneta Dam, Waneta Expansion, Arrow Lakes Generating Station, Brilliant Dam and the Brilliant Expansion).

Learn about each dam.