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The Path to First Power

A critical step on the path to first power from the Muskrat Falls generating facility is the creation of the reservoir. The reservoir is the area upstream of the Muskrat Falls facility – it extends 59km upstream of the facility to Gull Island. 

By restricting the amount of water passing through the Spillway, we will raise the water levels at Muskrat Falls to create the reservoir. This process is called impoundment. The authorized period for impoundment is between July 15, 2019 and September 30, 2019.

On July 10, we issued a public notice as the required one month notification prior to the anticipated start of impoundment. On July 17, we issued another public notice as the required three week notification. Impoundment is anticipated to start on AUGUST 7, 2019. This date is subject to modification and will be communicated publicly as impoundment approaches.

We expect that the water level in the reservoir will reach its final required elevation of 39m by the end of September. 

We have prepared important information to ensure you are aware of the process, timelines and most importantly, how to avoid potential hazards in and around the river and stay safe. 

Reservoir Impoundment

Impoundment is the process of increasing the water elevation upstream of the Muskrat Falls facility to create a reservoir. There are several steps required to create the reservoir.

To begin the impoundment process, we will restrict the water passing through the Spillway to increase the water level in the lower Churchill River from the current elevation of around 24.5m to an initial elevation of approximately 28-30m. 

We will then hold the water level at around 30m for a period of time to inspect all of the structures. Once the inspections have been completed, we will continue to raise the water levels by a rate of about one metre over a two-day period. This will take place within the established authorization period to raise the water level to the full elevation level of 39m. Impoundment is expected to be completed by the end of September.

As work continues on the installation of the turbines and generators in the powerhouse, the river will continue to flow through the Spillway. 

Safety Awareness During Impoundment

Your safety is our top priority 
During impoundment, there are a number of hazards that will exist in and around the reservoir area. Conditions in the river, along the banks, and in the newly impounded areas, will be constantly changing and can change rapidly. To ensure public safety during impoundment, it is important to avoid the Muskrat Falls reservoir area between Muskrat Falls and Gull Island. 

For your safety:

  • While we are raising water levels, avoid the area between the Muskrat Falls facility and Gull Island.
  • Be aware of potential hazards, such as trees sticking out of the water, floating logs and sandbars.
  • Stay back from the river’s edge and banks along the reservoir. Slumping and slides can occur as these are regular events on the lower Churchill River.
  • Be aware of changes in water levels.
  • Stay away from the facility as there is a strong water force upstream and downstream of the Spillway.

Please do not access the North Spur from the river
During impoundment, the North Spur portage trail will remain closed. Following impoundment to full supply level, the portage trail that travels over the North Spur will be re-established and river users will be notified when it is open.

Please refer to the impoundment map below that shows the current river boundary and the new river boundary after full impoundment to 39m. The map below shows that in some locations, the river will get wider by expanding into the low lying areas.

Important Public Safety Information

Please pay attention to safety signage
There are a number of safety hazards near the Muskrat Falls facility. We have placed signs to warn river users of these hazards. It is important for river users to always stay away from the facility as there is a strong water force upstream and downstream of the spillway.

We will issue regular safety notifications to the public throughout the impoundment process.

The Muskrat Falls facility has been marked with safety signs. If you are in the lower Churchill River valley, here’s what you should to do to stay safe:

  • Avoid waterways upstream and downstream of generating facility.
  • Obey all danger and warning signs and stay a safe distance from the safety boom.
  • Stay well back from the edge of a waterway or steep slopes along the reservoir. These areas may be slippery or unstable.
  • Be cautious of dry areas below dams. Water levels can quickly change and sandbars can become exposed.
  • Stay away from generating facility structures.

Monitoring the Performance of Our Facility

The Muskrat Falls generating facility has been built to the highest standards of dam safety and construction and the facility is monitored and constructed to meet Canadian Dam Association Dam Guidelines.

The dam safety program for the facility includes detailed inspections, monitoring and analysis for the entire life of the Muskrat Falls facilities. Monitoring equipment has been installed on the dams and structures and is being collected, monitored and analyzed.

Regular monitoring will be conducted using:

Stay Informed

We will continue to provide updates here as well as on our Facebook page ( and through Twitter (@NalcorEnergy). We will also share more information through our Stakeholder Updates.   

If you have a question, please contact us:
T: 1-888-576-5454
Office: 18-21 Burnwood Drive, Happy Valley-Goose Bay