Tag Archives: impact

Marter Township Generating Station Environmental Report – Blanche River – Part II Order Request

Krugerdorf Chutes, Blanche River

This proposal has a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) contract which pays a 50% peaking bonus for all power generated.  FIT Contracts have a 40 year term.   Projects with FIT contracts cannot be told to stop generating if Ontario has a surplus of power – they get paid for all power generated whether it is required or not.  Proposed to produce 2.1 MW Installed Capacity, which with seasonal flows will more realistically produce 50% of that – approximately 1 MW of power.

ORA has made a Part II Order request to the Minister of Environment to elevate this proposal to an Individual Environmental Assessment – a much more rigorous environmental assessment.  Awaiting MOE response.

Published: 14 March 2014

Excerpt:

“It is ORA’s submission that Xeneca’s approach falls far short of their claims in many key aspects of this ER, and does its best to sell the reader on the project, with an approach of convincing the reader to just trust them, let them build it, and then through monitoring and adaptive management during pre and post construction the riverine ecosystem will be just fine. This approach is not acceptable.”  Read more below:

Download (PDF, 593KB)


ORA Actions Have Significant Impact on Protection of Rivers

The-Chute-Second-Falls

Posted 8 March 2014

A number of environmentally harmful hydroelectric projects would likely be under construction by now if not for actions taken by ORA and our members.

In the fall of 2011, ORA was instrumental in a coordinated effort that resulted in three separate Environmental Reports (ERs) submitted by Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca)  being rejected by Ontario’s Ministry of Environment.  This was due to several deficiencies, as well as a “lack of traceability and transparency in Xeneca’s decision-making process and associated documentation”.  The developer was sent back to complete key studies and do more planning.  This rejection has led to another two years of studies, which has provided precious time for circumstances to influence some of their other proposals.  These ERs were three of a total of 19 proposals by Xeneca.

This was due to ORA and several of its members submitting Part II Order requests on hydro-electric proposals for the Ivanhoe, Frederick House and Serpent Rivers.  These were requests for the Minister of Environment to require an Individual Environmental Assessment (EA) for the projects.

Under current provincial legislation, Part II Order requests are the only option for the public and stakeholders to advocate for a more rigorous scrutiny of the proposal, and hopefully a more environmentally and socially sustainable hydroelectric project.

The proponent led process puts the fox in charge of the henhouse.  The proponent decides when to notify and consult with stakeholders, relay information, and share important documentation. Proponents don’t hesitate to let you know it’s a done deal, and that there is nothing you can do to stop the project.

Although requests to elevate the first three projects to individual EAs were not granted, these efforts did result in the proponent being required to conduct further studies. Not only did this delay the original three proposals, but it also caused Xeneca to shelve several other proposals that it had intended to issue Draft ERs on by the spring of 2012.  It has also provided time for the Department of National Defence to remove two waterpower sites on the Petawawa River.

This action by ORA and its members in 2011 bought valuable time for other events to transpire, and without this action, many of these proposals would most likely have been through the EA process by now, into the permitting phase, and under construction.

As of yet, none of Xeneca’s 19 intended projects have been approved by the Minister of Environment, and not one of the original three proposals has come back through to ER.

The first of Xeneca’s projects to make it through to the ER stage since then is the proposed Wabagishik Rapids Generating Station on the Vermilion River. In response to Xeneca’s ER and Notice of Completion in the fall of 2013, nineteen Part II Order requests were submitted to the MOE by ORA, Vermilion River Stewardship, and other concerned citizens. The large number of requests is in large part due to public awareness activities by ORA over the past few years. Currently, we are awaiting a response from the Minister regarding Wabagishik.

You can help ORA continue our work by becoming a member or making a contribution.  For more information click here.

 


Big Eddy Hydroelectric Proposal Hits a Major Roadblock

Petawawa River

Posted 8 March 2014

River advocates who have spent years working to protect the Petawawa had cause to celebrate recently as they learned the Department of National Defence (DND) abruptly terminated its temporary lease agreement with Xeneca Power Development Inc. (Xeneca), which was proposing a hydroelectric project at Big Eddy rapids.

The move puts the proposal on shaky ground, because the north end of the dam and the powerhouse were to be on DND property.  Dr. G. Alan Hepburn, a spokesperson for the Community Alliance to Save the Petawawa (CASP), says he was delighted to hear the news. He says it would have been more satisfying to see the project terminated on environmental grounds, but he welcomes its demise for any reason.

CASP has been working tirelessly in opposition to the project since it was first proposed in 2007. The group opposes the proposed development because of the serious threats it poses to the river’s ecology and to its recreational value. CASP also has concerns about the public safety impact in the event the computer system controlling the station should fail.

The organizers of the Hell or High Water events over the last 5 years have also worked diligently, in tandem with Whitewater Ontario (WO), to raise public awareness, maintain open dialogue with the proponent, and to challenge them to remain open and accountable to the public.  There are many joint letters written to Xeneca and posted on the WO website under Advocacy.

Ottawa Riverkeeper has also been very involved in efforts to prevent the development. In a letter to Xeneca in 2011, the organization outlined the many reasons the project should not proceed. Read Ottawa Riverkeeper’s submission here.

The letter relayed concerns that “the Petawawa River is one of only two remaining undammed tributaries of the Ottawa River and supports a wide range of important plant and animal species, including two notable species at risk, the American Eel and the Lake Sturgeon.  Given that the headwaters of the Petawawa River are within the boundaries of Algonquin Park, this river is relatively pristine, and blocking access to this vast area of high quality habitat would undoubtedly cause a significant reduction or loss of biological diversity in this freshwater ecosystem. The tributaries of the Ottawa River provide very important refuge and spawning areas for fish and it is well known that there are valuable spawning areas for Muskellunge in the Petawawa River.

Dams and weirs block migration of fish within a river and can threaten the viability of a species if provisions are not made to accommodate both upstream and downstream migration for fish.

As is the case for many other hydroelectric proposals across the province, damage to the river ecosystem would be extensive, and the project would have minimal benefits for the local economy.  Dr. Hepburn points out that the project would have been constructed by an out-of-town company, the equipment would have been procured elsewhere, and the only construction dollars spent locally would have been for concrete and accommodation for the out-of-town workers.  It is also not well known that the local municipalities would receive no tax revenue, and once built, the project would employ only one part time caretaker, because the system would be under computer controlled remotely.

Furthermore, these projects would not be beneficial to hydro ratepayers. Investors are attracted to them because the Feed In Tariff agreements offered to the proponents guarantee  roughly five times the going wholesale rate for every kilowatt hour they produce.  As well, developers cannot be told to stand down and stop generating if we have a surplus of power – they get paid for whatever they can produce, whether it is needed it or not.  In other words, the only ones who will really benefit are the developers.

Ontario Rivers Alliance’s (ORA) role in the Big Eddy proposal has been to collaborate, share information, strategize, support, and advocate for socially and environmentally responsible and sustainable projects all across Ontario.   ORA has worked tirelessly to address individual proposals, including the Big Eddy, as well as to influence policy and legislation that impacts on all Ontario freshwater resources.


Kichisippi Pimisi – American Eel

American Eel

Posted 8 March 2014

By: Christine Luckasavitch, Whitney and Area Algonquins

The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) is a remarkable fish that was once extremely abundant throughout tributaries to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, including the Ottawa River Watershed. Within the Ottawa River watershed, this species has faced a dramatic 99% decline in population since the 1980’s. The American eel has been apparently extirpated from many parts of its Ontario range and is in serious decline where it still exists. It is now listed as endangered under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007.

The American eel is known to Algonquins as Kichisippi Pimisi, which means “big river eel”. Algonquin Traditional Knowledge demonstrates that Kichisippi Pimisi is considered sacred to the Algonquin people as it has been an essential part of our traditional culture since time immemorial.

For Algonquins, Kichisippi Pimisi was a provider of nourishment, medicine and spirituality. As Pimisi were once extremely plentiful through Algonquin Traditional Territory, it was one of the most important and dependable sources of sustenance, particularly during long journeys and harsh winters. Pimisi were once so plentiful in our waters that over a thousand eels could be caught in an evening – enough to provide a great feast for an entire village. Pimisi was also highly valued as a trade item with voyageurs or new settlers to the Ottawa River basin.

The skin of Kichisippi Pimisi has incredible healing properties. It was used as a cast or brace for broken bones or sprains and to rid the body of infections once it dried. ATK also suggests that Pimisi skin has the ability to heal sore throats when applied to one’s neck.

Kichisippi Pimisi is a spiritual animal to Algonquins as it is a prayer carrier, travelling great distances through the waters. Kichisippi Pimisi is revered as a mystical creature as it would “disappear” into the earth each winter, “mud-balling” into the lake or river bed and hibernate over the winter months.

As many rivers throughout Algonquin Traditional Territory are no longer free-flowing, the presence of Kichisippi Pimisi has faced such a dramatic decline due to man-made barriers on our waterways. Our younger generations no longer hold a connection with this sacred animal. It is vital that Kichisippi Pimisi be restored to its historical range throughout the Ottawa River Basin, including the South Nation, Mississippi, Bonnechere, Petawawa, Mattawa and Madawaska Rivers and other tributaries in order to re-establish the ancient connection between Algonquins and Kichisippi Pimisi.

The cumulative effects of eel mortality during outward migration are truly devastating. Hydroelectric facilities, reduced access to habitat imposed by man-made barriers throughout waterways, commercial harvesting in jurisdictions other than Ontario, contaminants and habitat destruction, alteration and disruption are amongst the most significant threats to the survival and recovery of Kichisippi Pimisi in Ontario.




EPA Survey Finds More Than Half of the Nation’s River and Stream Miles in Poor Condition

News Releases from Headquarters

Release Date: 03/26/2013
Contact Information: Stacy Kika (News Media Only), Kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

Original Report here.

 

High Falls, on the Kipiwa River

High Falls, on the Kipiwa River

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results of the first comprehensive survey looking at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, finding that more than half – 55 percent – are in poor condition for aquatic life.

“The health of our Nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, and this new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Office of Water Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner. “We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities, and play a critical role in the economy.” Continue reading


Enerdu GS, Mississippi River, Almonte – Part II Order Request, by ORA

Almonte, Mississippi River

Almonte, Mississippi River

Summary of Recommendations:

It is ORA’s position that referring to this proposal as a “run-of-river” operation throughout the entire Environmental Report (ER), and not revealing or addressing the fact that this facility is actually a peaking operation that holds water back to produce power during peak demand hours, is a fatal flaw that places the integrity of the entire ER in question. We must then ask, what other important details have been left out.

Recommendation 1:
After having carefully reviewed the ER and the Response from Enerdu, and for all the reasons set out in this letter, ORA is making a formal request to the Minister of the Environment to elevate this proposal to an Individual Environmental Assessment.

Recommendation 2:
Failing the implementation of Recommendation 1, ORA requests that the Minister reject Enerdu’s ER, and the proponent be ordered to provide an ER that addresses all the recommendations and concerns set out in this letter.

Recommendation 3:
The categorization of “Existing Infrastructure” does not define or differentiate the rigor or level of the environmental evaluation required, and therefore the full impacts of the existing and planned operations must all be fully considered and assessed – both upstream and downstream.

Recommendation 4:
If Enerdu’s intent is to continue peaking this facility, then the proponent should be ordered to correct their ER by removing all reference to this project as a run-of-river and to instead make reference to it as a “modified peaking hydroelectric facility”. Continue reading


Economic Impact of Waterpower on Crown Land in Ontario – ORA to MNR, Fayak

Excerpt:  “In response to Ontario Rivers Alliance’s (ORA) 19 September 2012 letter regarding our review and comments on the Economic Impact of Waterpower Projects on Crown Lands in Ontario (Report), Minister Gravelle requested that we forward our questions and comments to your attention.

ORA had hoped for a substantive response from the Minister, one that would address our economic, environmental and public health concerns; however, we were very disappointed when none of our concerns were addressed.

Additionally, this flawed Report was presented at the recent Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA) conference, The Power of Water, which was not only sponsored by MNR, but to make matters worse, Deputy Minister O’Toole assured the waterpower industry in his closing keynote speech, that “Crown land will be made available to support FIT 2.0 contract offerings, consistent with the government’s Green Energy Act objectives and the Ministry of Natural Resources’ draft Renewable Energy on Crown Land policy.”[1]  This, despite the fact that the EBR posting had only just closed 10 days prior to this conference, and was not yet officially finalized and released.  No such assurance should have been given without the completion of a thorough analysis of all the implications (both positive and negative). The Fraser Institute, Ontario’s Auditor General, and other experts, also question the wisdom of moving forward with additional power generation development at this time.”

[1] OWA 30 October 2012 Press Release – The Power of Water Conference