Update: As the river drops, the danger rises – Harvie Passage drop may now act as ‘drowning machine’

As we come up to the final long weekend of the summer, we would like to give a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all Calgarians – and Albertans – who have respected the closure of the Harvie Passage. We know it’s hard to stay away from such a fun area while the last days of summer go by, but it’s necessary. And under current conditions, it’s more necessary than ever.

Photo of an exposed section of the Harvie Passage, damaged by the June 2013 flood

Receding water levels give us a better look at damage to the passage.

Yesterday, an inspection revealed that an extremely dangerous ‘whitewater’ condition has developed at ‘Drop #4’, the passage’s most downstream drop structure, which is adjacent to Deerfoot Trail South. (The drop is also known as ‘Tatanka’ to kayakers and boaters.)

Due to low water levels downstream of the passage, this drop has developed the potential to trap objects – including people and boats – for long periods of time. In other words, it behaves just like the “drowning machine” created by the Calgary Weir before the passage was built. This dangerous condition, in addition to the numerous safety hazards that exist throughout the rest of the structure, makes any use of the passage – regardless of boating expertise or equipment – extremely dangerous.

Photo of whitewater at Drop 4 of the Harvie Passage

Whitewater conditions at ‘Drop 4’ are as intense as the ‘drowning machine’ produced by the Calgary Weir.

The safety boom installed earlier this month, and signs alerting boaters to the danger of the passage, will remain in place until repairs are completed and the passage re-opens. Please continue to respect the closure. No day of summer fun is worth the injuries – or even death – that could result from using the passage in its current condition.

Media note: Photos are available for media use. Please contact ESRD Communications at 780-427-8636 for additional information and photos.

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