OSWEGO, NY – Brookfield Renewable Power announces that it has implemented enhanced safety tools and warnings for anglers who recreate on or near the company’s Varick Hydropower Dam on the Oswego River. These new tools and warnings supplement the already existing system of warnings, which included signage and a Fishermen’s Alert System, among other features.
“Brookfield appreciates the importance of fishing to the Oswego community. The fact remains that fishing below the Varick Dam and Powerhouse is naturally hazardous and it is critical that anglers and other water recreation enthusiasts exercise caution,” said Jeff Auser, Brookfield’s Chief Dam Safety Officer. “Brookfield has developed a reference map for anglers which indicates in red the areas of greater hazard. Wading inside these danger zones is now restricted, as is access to project structures, such as the Varick Dam.”
The public is advised to stay away from other dangerous areas such as intake and water conveyance structures, gates, powerhouses and substations. In addition, everyone is advised to obey all warning signs, sirens, buoys, booms, barriers, lights and fences. Hazards in restricted areas are very dangerous and are more likely to result in permanent injury or death.
Brookfield has also installed other new safety tools that can be used by anglers, including red and yellow “Danger” and “Caution” warning lights to indicate water flow changes nearby the Varick Dam and Powerhouse. New lettered 911 river markers are now provided on both sides of the river from the Varick Dam to its confluence with Lake Ontario to aid and assist rescue personnel when responding to an emergency. Rescue throw bags and rings are stationed at key points on the river. Rescue stations and ladders have been added to key points within the river to also aid with exit.
Brookfield offers these other important safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable fishing experience on the Oswego River nearby the Varick Hydropower Dam:
- Whether wading or boating, always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. Neoprene waders also will aid in fishing safely.
- Stay alert for changes in water levels. Hydroelectric power production, upriver canal operations and natural flow variations may cause unexpected swift currents and changes in water levels below the Varick Dam and Powerhouse.
- Pay attention to depth markers installed in the river to help monitor river conditions around you.
- Never fish alone.
- If you see a rise in water levels, exit the river immediately. Also, if spillage over the dam increases, if the alarm siren sounds, or the red warning light is lit, exit the river immediately.
- Never try crossing the river when water rises. Move to the closest shoreline to exit.
- Wade with caution. Wear a wader belt, keep drawstrings tight and avoid situations where waders or boots could flood. If you trip or fall, don’t panic! Keep your feet up and float with the current to calmer water.
- Wear polarized sunglasses to spot hazards (and fish!).
- Wear anti-slip soles, spikes or other effective “grippers” or “corkers” when wading. Also, carry a wading stick for better footing.
Brookfield Renewable Power, in collaboration with the city of Oswego Fire Department, the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning, and The Palladium-Times is part of the Wear It! Oswego campaign. The program raises public awareness about responsible and safe recreation on or near water. In addition, the program highlights the importance of wearing lifejackets and the options that are available when it comes to comfortable and lightweight personal flotation devices. For additional information on Wear It! Oswego, visit www.facebook.com/wearitoswego
Take the time to learn about daily river conditions before recreating. If you are familiar with the river, review USGS Streamflow information or ask someone with local knowledge.