Foss Pioneers New Route on Columbia River

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Photo courtesy Foss

Foss pioneered a new commercial route deep into Canada on the Columbia River in August, navigating through strong currents and shallow water to safely deliver a new 190-ton turbine for British Columbia’s largest hydro-electric dam.

In 2002, Foss became the first to use the upper Columbia for commercial navigation, demonstrating its ability to operate in extreme environments by towing a 135-ton turbine from Coulee City to Trail, B.C. just north of the boarder.  This summer’s trip was about 155 miles farther upriver.

“We put together a great experienced team with local knowledge and we know what we’re doing up there,” said Tim Beyer, Foss director of regional towing, who managed the move. “Our team is as good as it gets for this kind of job.”

The voyage took a small convoy up Lake Roosevelt and then through the river to Northport. After crossing the border, the boats passed Waneta Dam, where the Pend Oreille river flows into the Columbia, then traveled stretches of the narrow river below, between and above the Arrow Lakes before arriving in Shelter Bay, where the turbine was unloaded at a ferry landing. It was carried from there over land to the hydro plant by a prime mover.

The tug skippers were in direct communication with B.C. Hydro representatives, who made the trip possible by regulating the flow of water through three dams above several critical areas to manipulate and minimize currents.

Later, B.C. Hydro helped the group through Tin Cup Rapids by increasing the flow of the Kootenay River. The Kootenay flows into the Columbia slightly downstream from the rapids, and increasing its volume had the effect of creating a dam, both deepening the water in the rapids and slowing it down.

The journey into Canada was the last leg of a long trip for the turbine. It was manufactured in Brazil and arrived by ship in Vancouver, Wash., and Foss towed it aboard the barge 185 C-3 to Pasco with the tug Lewiston. From there, a Prime Mover moved it over land to Coulee City.


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