While the effects of large hydro projects (200 MW) have been well known and documented for over a century, small (up to 10 MW) and medium sized (10 MW to 200 MW) hydroelectric projects involve many of the same impacts per unit of power generated and, cumulatively, the environmental degradation can exceed that of large hydro projects. Small and medium sized hydro projects are situated on smaller and often more sensitive riverine ecosystems; however, like large hydro projects, will also alter the river’s flow regime and can have significant impacts on the aquatic environment, as flow is a major determinant of a river’s ecological characteristics and its aquatic biodiversity.
A recent study examined scaled hydropower impacts in the Nu River basin of southwestern China, where the researchers calculated impact per MW of capacity across 14 metrics between small and large hydropower projects (with small being below 50 MW as defined in Chinese policy). They found that small hydropower dams had greater impact per MW for 9 of the 14 metrics, including length of river channel affected and impact on habitat designated as conservation priorities.
Brook trout spawning in a coldwater stream. Film by Steve Noakes
Groups concerned about Erin’s proposed plant effect on coldwater fish, by Keegan Kozolanka
Ontario Rivers Alliance says town has ‘dismissed’ plans to protect Credit River brook trout from Erin wastewater plant, by Alexandra Heck
The Town of Erin (Erin) is in the design phase of a new sewage treatment plant, and the Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is concerned that the sewage plant effluent will endanger some of the most productive and highly valued brook trout populations in the West Credit River. Continue reading
In May of 2013 the Ontario Rivers Alliance made a Part II Order request on the proposed Trout Lake River Hydroelectric Generating Station, at Big Falls, in the Red Lake area. This proposal seemed to die a natural death with no decision on our Part II request, or activity/movement forward on the project. Here we are now more than 7 years later, and last week we received the correspondence below from the MECP stating that
“As part of our government’s efforts to boost Ontario’s economic recovery after COVID- 19, we have passed the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, including amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act.
The changes to the Environmental Assessment Act will allow us to build a strong environmental assessment program that effectively considers the input of local communities and focuses on projects that have the highest impact to the environment. The Act will continue to consider “the protection, conservation and wise management in Ontario of the environment”. A key change made to the Environmental Assessment Act was to limit Part II Order requests to potential adverse impacts of projects to constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty rights. All Part II Order requests that were under review which do not pertain to potential adverse impacts on constitutionally protected Aboriginal or treaty rights have been terminated by the amendments.”
The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act was passed earlier this year, and this legislative amendment is retroactive in its backwards reach to 2013. In spite of the government’s misleading claim that the changes to the EAA “will allow us to build a strong environmental assessment program”, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there is now no mechanism to request a more rigorous environmental assessment, and public consultation and consideration on these risky projects, as well as the ability to make a Part II Order request, is no longer a possibility. There was also no public or Indigenous consultation before the passing of the Economic Recovery Act.
Ontarians may have invented the Blue Box, but our current linear, make-use-dispose economy makes it impossible for recycling alone to solve our growing waste problem. Currently, less than seven per cent of Ontario’s waste is recycled through the Blue Box, and 1 the province sends over 8 million tonnes (70 per cent)2 of trash to landfills and incinerators every year.
MEDIA RELEASE: For Immediate Release – 14 May 2020
Time to clean the swimming pool but where to drain the water?
It’s that time of year when you are likely thinking about getting the pool or hot tub ready for the summer season. It’s a good idea to prepare by first checking with your local town or city to find out what you should do with the water when you drain the pool. “Beware, that releasing pool or hot tub water containing chlorine or salt directly into the street or a storm drain could bring a very heavy fine. That’s because those chemicals would then flow untreated into a local stream, river or lake and could result in a fish die-off or be very harmful to aquatic life”, said Linda Heron, Chair of the Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA). Continue reading
The government recommendation asks whether the current concentrations of the chemical “exceed” the benchmarks or guidelines. This implies that we are okay until the benchmarks or guidelines are exceeded. This is not true. Health impacts don’t suddenly start to occur when you cross that narrow threshold of meeting the threshold and move into exceeding. We are already in trouble once we are near or have met the benchmarks or guidelines.
Removing the regulatory baseline for 113 of Ontario’s most heavily polluting facilities in nine environmentally damaging sectors is the wrong approach if the Government of Ontario’s goal is to hold polluters accountable, as it has stated on several occasions. In order to achieve that goal, the MISA regulations should be updated and expanded to new facilities operating in Ontario across the nine industrial sectors.
The proposed binational strategy on PBDEs outlines limited actions to address PBDEs levels in the Great Lakes beyond the measures that have already been committed on PBDEs by each country. It is also important that U.S. and Canada outline expected reduction targets for PBDEs in contrast to the current approach to outline intended measures. Without targets the ability to indicate successful and effective actions on PBDEs would be difficult to achieve.