Think Smart


Be Safe. Stay away from water around dams and generating plants.

Quinte Conservation Authority has a created a curriculum-based teachers’ resource kit accompanied by colouring activity sheets. Click Here for more information.

IMG_1353 Why water around dams and generating stations aren’t safe places to play

Water near hydro dams and generating stations are not safe places for kids or adults to play. The waters nearby may appear calm but they can turn into a drowning machine at any moment.

The Bonnechere River may look tranquil, but when the turbines start up at Renfrew Power Generation in Renfrew and the spillways open, the water levels and flows on the river can change immediately. That sudden rush of water can hurt or kill. Currents and undertows make the water nearby a dangerous place to be.

Water near the seven smaller dams on the Bonnechere River may look peaceful but the currents can be very strong and equally dangerous. Be Safe. Stay Away from the water near dams and generating stations.


There are many other dangers including:

  • Flash flooding in dry areas
  • Eddies that you can’t see but can drag you under
  • Slippery or steep rocks or banks
  • Rocks hidden below the surface
  • Thin or slushy ice

RPG has installed warning signs restricting access around dams and generating stations to help you stay as safe as possible. Please obey warning signs and don’t enter fenced, gated and restricted areas.

Remember, these messages and barriers are there to warn you to stay away from these unsafe areas. Think smart. Stay safe!

Click Here to watch a safety video Drowning Machine-a Film about the Dangers of Lowhead Dams.

IMG_1323What you can do to be safe?

  • Obey the warning signs. They are there to protect you.
  • Fences are there for your safety. Don’t climb them.
  • Those yellow booms downstream from dams and spillways signify a danger zone—where there are eddies and currents.
  • Spillways are used to handle overflow water from dams. When it is closed, the water downstream is calm. When the spillway opens, a very large amount of water can be released putting your life in jeopardy.
  • When the turbines are generating—and they can start suddenly, the water churns and you may not get out alive.
  • Water levels and flows can change quickly below dams, swamping everything in sight or pulling you into an undertow. Don’t fish, moor, anchor or tie your boat, kayak, or canoe below a dam, and don’t swim, hike, walk or operate vehicles below a dam.
  • The yellow booms upstream of the RPG’s dams are there to warn you that crossing them can result in you being dragged into an intake pipe, a spillway or over a weir, and drown.
  • The water may look calm upstream from a generating station but there are powerful eddies that can drag you to the bottom.
  • Don’t swim above a dam. Currents can pull you through the dam or pin you against flow structures from which you can’t escape.
  • Stay away from the water’s edge: banks may be slippery making it easy to fall into the water; in the winter, they become icy and slippery.
  • Keep a close watch on your children, and set a good example for them.
  • Don’t picnic, camp or sun bathe in areas that may flood.
  • Dams, generating stations and the water around them aren’t recreation areas. Please be safe and stay away from them.
  • Watch out for weirs. They look like an artificial waterfall and you can come up on one quickly without knowing it is there.
  • You aren’t any safer downstream of a weir because the churning water at the base can drag you under.


  • Stay off the ice. As part of operating dams, river levels are raised and lowered during the winter and spring, weakening the ice cover and making this a slushy, if not deceivingly, treacherous thin ice.
  • High volumes of water during the spring freshets create very dangerous situations. Please stay away from the river and RPG’s dams and generating stations.
  • Don’t skate, ice fish, snowmobile, cross-country ski, walk or do any other activity near dams and generating stations. They aren’t recreation areas.

Curriculum-based teachers’ resource kit

Quinte Conservation Authority has a created a curriculum-based teachers’ resource kit accompanied by colouring activity sheets. For more information, please visit