Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is a Not-for-Profit grassroots organization with a focus on healthy river ecosystems all across Ontario. ORA members represent numerous organizations such as the Vermilion River Stewardship, French River Delta Association, CPAWS-Ottawa Valley, Whitewater Ontario, Mississippi Riverwatchers, along with many other stewardships, associations, and private and First Nations citizens, who have come together to ensure the rash of waterpower proposals currently going through the approvals process are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
We all want Green Energy, but let’s ensure it is truly Green, and not the “Green-washed” version that is being proposed for many Ontario rivers. Let’s ensure that efficiencies and upgrades are made to existing hydroelectric dams before new ones are built. Let’s ensure fish passage and fish friendly turbines are installed.
Climate change is upon us, and WATER is quickly becoming our gravest concern. Let’s ensure river developments take into account the best advice of climate scientists, and are sustainable for many years to come.
So What’s the Dam Problem?
Ontario rivers are being placed at risk by a rash of over 45 hydroelectric proposals that have been awarded FIT Contracts, and are moving through the permitting and approvals process. The Green Energy Act with its accompanying FIT Program is the only thing that has made many of these rivers feasible for waterpower development. The proponent can’t be told to stand down, and gets paid a 50% bonus for whatever power they can generate – with a 50% bonus to produce power during peak demand. This encourages developers to maximize power at the expense of the environment and public health and safety.
Ontario Rivers are in trouble because our government has put the developer in charge of the Environmental Assessment process, instead of the MOE and MNR, and there is no possibility of a “no outcome” – effectively placing the FOX in charge of the chicken coop!
Hydroelectric is not “Green” when river flow is held back in head ponds – it is in fact “Dirty Energy”.
1. Bad for the River Ecosystem:
Dams that hold water back in headponds result in:
- Degraded water quality
- Lower downstream water levels and flows
- Lower oxygen levels
- Increased mercury in fish tissue – studies show a 10 to 20 times increase
- Increased nitrate and phosphorus levels
- Warming of water – sound like a recipe for more algae?
2. Bad for Fishermen & Snowmobilers:
- Turbines chop up and kill Fish and Eels
- Fish migration for spawning is blocked
- Prime Spawning areas are destroyed
- Entire species of fish are threatened
- Rapid rise and fall of river water levels on daily basis makes ice unsafe for ice fishermen & snowmobilers
3. Bad for Our Health & Safety:
- Increased mercury in fish tissue resulting in fish consumption restrictions
- Conditions created by dams & their headponds can result in increased incidences of toxic blue-green algae
- Many people rely on river water for their drinking water and daily household needs
- Dams can fail from extreme weather events and flooding
- Rapidly changing water levels and flow velocity can put fishermen, swimmers and boaters at risk
4. Bad for the Community & Local Economy:
Ontario Rivers offer a thriving eco-tourism opportunity for small businesses:
- Prime fishing and tourist viewing areas are destroyed
- Decline in fish populations, especially cold-water species
- Habitat destroyed
- Pristine and unique features are replaced with a concrete dam, chain link fence and warning sirens
- Rivers with cycling or peaking hydroelectric dams make boating, swimming, fishing, and ice recreation unsafe within zone of influence
- Tourists will not travel hundreds of miles to see where rapids, waterfalls and fish used to be
We invite you to join us in our mission.
“Our future generations are depending on us.”