Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit

Petawawa River Hydroelectric Proposals

Summary of the Project

Two projects on the Petawawa River.  One at Half Mile Rapids, entirely on DND property, the other at Big Eddy, right in the middle of Town.

Description of the Issues

These sites have not previously been dammed in any way

  • Aesthetic degradation due to reduced flow in bypassed section of the river
  • Impact on kayak/canoe navigability. This is a world-class kayaking site
  • Fish habitat, migration.  Sturgeon are acknowledged to be in the river.  Proponent PD says there is “no known bypass solution”.  Also, there are many other non-SAR game fish.
  • Public safety:  there is a heavily used recreation area 500 meters downstream of the proposed dam.  Varying river flows, either intentional or resulting from failure of the computer control system, mean that the users of this area are at risk
  • Contempt for Public Consultation component of the EA.  Proponent generally ignores questions, or gives vague general answers.  Presentations have so far been “content free”
  • Insufficient documentation to assess potential environmental impact.  PD is conceptual only
  • Big Eddy switched from unmanaged to managed waterway.  This omits the “Notice of Inspection” opportunity for public review.
  • Document baseline is uncontrolled.  Documents get revised, removed at the proponent’s whim, and there is no revision record
  • The proponent is attempting to deviate from the published Class EA process.  He wants to have a draft of the ER reviewed by the regulators.  In other words, he wants to have two tries at seeing just how much he can get away with.
  • Erosion of the south bank of the river and the foundation of the Petawawa Blvd bridge appears to be a distinct possibility.
  • Lack of clarity on peaking vs. run-of-the-river.  This greatly affects the area of influence. Continue reading

Chats Falls & Chenaux – Waterpower Agreements Renewal – Ross

June 13, 2011:


I write this open letter as an Algonquin Elder from Pikwàkanagàn First Nation in response to your invitation for public comment to the proposed waterpower agreements with Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) at Chats Falls and Chenaux. I write one letter to you both since there is a lack of continuity in MNR’s approaches to waterpower agreements in different parts of the Ottawa River Watershed and elsewhere in Ontario. There also is a lack of continuity between these proposed agreements and MNR’s responsibilities under the Lakes and Rivers Act (LRIA). I think that it is wrong for MNR to have so many different ways of treating agreements under Ontario Regulation 242/08 and also wrong to not acknowledge in every waterpower agreement the fact that MNR has responsibilities under LRIA. Continue reading

Vermilion River – 4 Proposed Hydro-electric Dams

At Soo Crossing, Vermilion River

The Vermilion River Stewardship was formed to deal with several challenges that are presently facing the Vermilion River and its Watershed.

River Concerns:

  • Four proposed Run-of-River Waterpower Projects
  • 9 Waste Water Treatment Facilities, 3 holding ponds, 1 tailings pond, and lift stations dumping treated, undertreated and untreated effluent into the Vermilion River Watershed.
  • Mining development creating effluent discharge and pollution
  • Algae and Cyanobacteria
  • Invasive Species, such Eurasian Watermilfoil

As you can see, the Vermilion River Stewardship is dealing with several challenges, however, the most pressing and urgent at the moment are the four proposed waterpower projects presently going through the Environmental Assessment (EA) process.  This report will focus on these challenges. Continue reading

McGraw Falls – Letter from Allen to Enskaitis, Xeneca Power Development Ltd.

July 30, 2011:  “I see that the NOC indicates that requesters of elevations had a deadline of May 1, 2009 to submit their requests to the Director of Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, Ministry of the Environment. That date, as you know, precedes the date when the Ontario Legislature passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) on May 14, 2009. See here. That leads to some questions which I ask you to answer.

 1. Is the McGraw Falls project being considered under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act?

 2. Were there any requests for elevation prior to the May 1, 2009 deadline?

 3a. Has Xeneca received approval to proceed with the project?

3b. If so where are the approval documents posted?

 4. The Appendices include a notice dated February 21, 2008 which mentions specialty studies “currently in process” re each of habitat, hydrology and archaeology*.

 4a. Does the April 1, 2009 ESR include all of the information from these three studies?

 4b. Were any other specialty studies initiated after Februray 21, 2008?

  • I have an interest in cultural heritage values so commend Xeneca for ensuring that “McGraw Falls Water Power continues to work very closely with the Thunder Bay Region Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure that local values are examined and studies are focused appropriately” (McGraw Falls ESR Appendix A). An indication of appropriate focus and treatment of cultural values would be inclusion in the ESR of all five classes of cultural heritage values listed in Ontario’s Forest Management Guide for Cultural Heritage Values, Section 1.4, page 7. (OMNR. 2007. Forest Management Guide for Cultural Heritage Values. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Toronto. 84p). Those classes are:

–          archaeological sites

–          archaeological potential areas

–          cultural heritage landscapes

–          historical Aboriginal values

–          cemeteries Continue reading

What is River Management – by Frederick W. Schueler

by Frederick W. Schueler

Bishops Mills Natural History Centre

RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0

This citation was “originally published in River Management Society Journal 24(2):1,14-15.”

My wife Aleta and I constitute the BMNHC as a “mom & pop” research institute, with the goal of studying conspicuous but neglected aspects of ecological change. We find many aspects of rivers to be conspicuous but neglected, and we’ve developed low cost protocols for remedying aspects of this neglect. We work with some agencies of the conservation bureaucracy including the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ontario Freshwater Mussel Recovery Team, and South Nation Conservation Authority, and have assisted a number of NIMBY’s who were unsettled by plans to change rivers near their homes, but mostly we study and publicize those groups of organisms that are widely noticed but not recognized to species, and ecosystems and communities that are rapidly changing for whatever reasons. Continue reading

2011-February 24 – ORA Media Release

Feb. 24, 2011

Alliance concerned about river power proposals

SUDBURY, Ont. — Environmentalists, recreational users and tourism operators have formed a coalition to protect the health of Ontario river systems.

“We are hearing concerns from across Ontario that the provincial government’s Green Energy Act could actually damage our ecosystems,” says Linda Heron, interim chairperson for the Ontario Rivers Alliance. “Like most people in this province, our members thought green energy would involve projects that would produce power without causing environmental harm. But our research indicates that the government needs help in assessing what damage might be caused to our watersheds by energy producers whose prime motivation seems to be profit.” Continue reading

CELA Research Project – Ontario Rivers Alliance Comments

Ontario Rivers Alliance members came together out of shear frustration at the current lack of transparency, cooperation, and accountability on the part of the Proponent, MNR and MOE.  It became abundantly clear very early on that the best interests of the rivers and their ecosystems were not being served and protected, and these hydroelectric proposals were not going to be stopped through the normal Environmental Assessment process.

Following are a few comments submitted by ORA to the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) in response to their research project:

Investigating and evaluating the effectiveness of the process based on the following broad criteria – the:

  • transparency of information,
  • level of public participation that routinely occurs,
  • accessibility of both community consultations and project information; and
  • existing appeal rights for this process.

Continue reading

Help Save Ontario Rivers from the Green Energy Rush – A Call to Action

Photo by Mark Clement

The Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) was recently formed to create one big voice to raise an awareness of the rash of proposed waterpower projects currently going through the approval process in Ontario.    As of June 2011, there were 98 hydroelectric dam proposals on the books, and the 2005 Hatch Acres Report, Ontario Waterpower Potential, lists just under 600potential waterpower sites.

Many of these dams are slated for “modified peaking”, a method of holding water back in head ponds, for release at peak demand hours, and many rivers have plans for a multiple series of dams, which would involve many kilometers of inundated land and forest area.   These dams have been labeled as “Green Energy”, but they are not Green, and there are a multitude of research papers and studies by Environment Canada and MNR to back up this statement. Continue reading

Please Help Save the Ivanhoe River!

The Chute and Third Falls

The Chute  is approximately a 30 minute drive from Foleyet, and Third Falls is approximately a 2 hour drive (all bush roads).  Both falls have been going through the approvals process with a plan to have these dams erected, and The Chute is the first of many under this new streamlined EA process to reach the Notice of Completion stage in Ontario.

We need to make our voices heard now because The Chute is the stepping stone for future dams to be built.  The proponent chose a small northern community first, in the hopes of being allowed to get away with destroying the nature, animal habitats and aquatic species without anyone opposing.

Everyone can help by reviewing the The Chute – EA Report and voicing their opinions to Xeneca.  The Environmental Report and other documentation are available on Xeneca’s website – The Chute and Third Falls. Continue reading