The Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) is warning customers to avoid all winter recreational activities on ice near hydroelectric facilities. Ice that forms near its hydroelectric dams and adjacent reservoirs is often thin, unsafe and inconsistent. The thin nature of the ice is a result of the continually changing water flows beneath the surface. Although it is something to be aware of, it’s important to note that thin-forming ice is part of normal hydro dam operations.
“With recent cold snaps, folks are lulled into thinking ice should be thick and safe to be on,” according to Virgil Schlorke, Manager of Regional Generation for UPPCO. “That may be the case on standing bodies of water, but not the case near hydro-electric facilities. Water below the ice continues to flow at a rapid pace not allowing the ice to thicken.
“We have ropes, barriers and signs warning of THIN ICE. However, we have evidence showing some ice fisherman have been inside the safety zone,” according to Schlorke.
This warning is for areas above and below the dams, as well as at adjacent reservoirs.
“We take pride in operating our facilities safely and in a manner that respects the environment and the rights of other users of the waterways. Your safety is important to us, said Schlorke.
UPPCO owns and operates 7 hydroelectric dams and four storage reservoirs. They are located in Upper Michigan along the Dead River, Escanaba, Ontonagon and Sturgeon rivers.