It was human error that led to the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver releasing a large volume of water into the Capilano River earlier this month, killing a fisherman, according to a preliminary report.
“While the review continues, we can now confirm that the clearest contributing factor was human error related to programming of the control system for the spillway gate at the Cleveland Dam,” Metro Vancouver commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny said in a statement Thursday (Oct. 8).
“Metro Vancouver takes responsibility for this mistake and our deepest sympathies go out to those affected by the tragic loss of life.”
On Oct. 1, emergency crews were called to an area along the river known to be a popular spot for fishing after a large volume of water poured into an area that controls the dam’s flow. Four people were rescued or able to reach shore while a man was pulled from the water in medical distress but later died of his injuries.
The man’s son is still missing.
Since the incident, questions have been raised as to why the dam – as well as the other facility operated by Metro Vancouver in Seymour – do not have public warning systems.
Dobrovolny said that is now being considered. Metro Vancouver is also bringing in expert advisors to assess current practices and procedures and provide independent advice to better its maintenance systems.
“Following technical recommendations by experts, Metro Vancouver upgraded the Cleveland Dam spillway gate from a mechanical to fully automated control system in 2002 and there have been subsequent upgrades. Metro Vancouver has not experienced a similar unintended release of water in almost two decades,” Dobrovolny said.
“We are entirely compliant with all related WorkSafeBC orders and requirements.”
Dam safety reviews happen every seven years, with the last occurring in 2016.
The spillway gate will be closed through the end of the year and possibly into the spring.
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