Waneta Dam – Tight Access

  • SECTOR: Hydroelectric Dam - Geotechnical
  • LOCATION: Trail, BC
  • DATE: 2018
  • EQUIPMENT: Hydracore Gopher & Fraste MDXL

Geotech completed a drilling investigation at the Fortis Waneta Dam site located just outside of Trail, BC in 2018. The program involved limited access drill holes inside the dam galleries to retrieve core samples of the concrete/bedrock associated with the structural integrity of the dam, which was built in the 1960’s.

These drill holes located on the steep stairwells required complex drill moves within the dam. Due to the limited access, Geotech utilized a customized man-portable Hydracore Gopher drill. Further to the limited access gallery drilling, the Gopher drill was also used on the block face of the dam with crane access from the top.

Additional drilling was completed on the top of the spillway gates with a track mounted unit completing Large Diameter, PQ and HQ coring. A skid steer was used to move mud, cuttings and drill components to and from the drill.


  • All drilling required 100% containment of fluids as all setups were in close proximity to water bodies and drains.
  • The spillway drill area required precise calculation of weight distribution to ensure the integrity of the spillway area was not compromised.


  • Extensive pre-planning and fabrication was completed with the Hydracore Gopher drill in order to move the unit manually within stairwells and landings no bigger than 4’ wide and 7’ tall.
  • Additional safety breakaway cables and mine bar winches were designed and used to manually transport the drill components (weighing up to 1000 lbs) safely between drill areas throughout the internal workings of the dam.