On 23 – 24 June of 2017, the upstream Gorrie Dam failed and the Howson Dam was at capacity during an extreme rain event and flood when 175 mm of rain fell in just 7 hours, placing more than 150 property owners at risk and resulting in an estimated $11-million in damages in the Town of Harriston. This severe rain event broke previous records by approximately 40% and was the second highest flow on the North Maitland in the 48 years of record. Fortunately, no one was killed; however, it could have been much worse, as in October of 2015, when a South Carolina flood breached 18 dams, and resulted in 16 deaths.
Since last December, it is difficult to recall a week that has gone by where some sort of new major twist hasn’t happened with this story. Late in 2015, the Thames River Anglers Association (TRAA) and the Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) brought together a coalition of 20 different organizations, representing over 250,000 members, to jointly sign on to two letters sent to the City of London’s Mayor and Council requesting decommissioning. Continue reading
ORA’s report, Hydro Impacts 101: The Trade-offs, identifies some of the environmental impacts that can and do occur at dams and waterpower facilities. It will become clear that waterpower is seldom clean or green, and that some rivers should not be dammed at all. In addition, this Report recommends some ways of reducing the impacts, and of improving the regulatory process for waterpower in Ontario. Read our report here…. Continue reading
The hydro lobby is very powerful and deep pocketed, and has gone to great lengths to undermine and debunk studies that clearly demonstrate the significant contribution that reservoirs make to total world GHG emissions.[i] Shifts in water temperatures, or the availability of fresh water due to climate change could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity in more than two thirds of the world’s power plants between 2040 and 2069, said a study from an Austrian research centre. In fact, Keywan Riahi, Director of the Energy Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis says, “power plants are not only causing climate change, but they might also be affected in major ways by climate”.[ii]
[ii] Power generation could take a big hit from climate change. CBC News, Technology & Science, Thomas Reuters, Posted 4 January 2016.
Keynote Speaker: Mariëtte Pushkar, M.Sc., P.Geo.
Natural Channel Design Initiative
Mariëtte provided an overview of the Natural Channels Initiative, Natural Channel Design Principles, Watercourse Restoration and Dam Removals, and Regulatory Agency Roles and Challenges. She drew on her own experience and that of her colleagues at Ecosystem Recovery during the presentation.
For Immediate Release: 5 November 2015
Hydro Impacts 101 – The Trade-offs
Significant environmental damage from hydroelectric power generation has been ongoing for many decades in Ontario and in other locations throughout the world, yet the public has been led to believe that it provides a clean and green source of energy because there is no smoke, no ash, and no radiation. Indeed, some mistakenly think that all hydro contributes positively to the climate change issue. “This report will help to set the record straight on just how clean and green waterpower really is”, said Linda Heron, Chair of the Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA). Continue reading
The Wahta Mohawks (formerly the Mohawks of Gibson) arrived in Muskoka in November of 1881 using what is now called the Bala Portage – which has always been south of the Bala North Falls. Historical documents clearly show that other First Nations in the area used this Portage prior to this.
Transportation by water and portaging is traditionally and culturally important to all First Nations, and it is disrespectful that we were not informed of the impact on the Bala Portage by this proposed project. We plan on raising this issue with our political representative organizations including the Iroquois Caucus and Chiefs of Ontario.
We therefore hereby give notice that the communications and information the Wahta Mohawks have received concerning this proposed project have been completely inadequate, and the “Duty to Consult” has not been fulfilled.
Source: Washington State University
Researchers have documented an underappreciated suite of players in global warming: dams, the water reservoirs behind them, and surges of greenhouse gases as water levels go up and down. In separate studies, researchers saw methane levels jump 20- and 36-fold during drawdowns.
Dam It provides a great overview of some of the problems with hydroelectric.
Dam It was created by three Grade 12 students from Kapuskasing District High School, as a school Science Project. This film illustrates the effects of hydroelectric dams and climate change on the Kapuskasing River.