Watch our video to understand how hydroelectricity is greenwashed by Ontario Power Generation as “clean” and “non-emitting” when there are hundreds of independent third-party studies to the contrary. Read our full submission here!
Please sign and share our petition to protect Ontario Rivers and send OPG a strong message!
There are currently three pumped storage projects going through the planning and approvals process, that would add approximately 2,000 MW of electricity to the grid. Developing that same Installed Capacity from small hydroelectric projects would involve 200 – 10 MW proposals that would cause untold environmental damage to dozens of Ontario rivers. It is imperative the province does not rush or over-reach its targets and develop new electricity projects unnecessarily.
Wherever water levels have been lifted from their former undeveloped elevation must be considered the full extent of the reservoir/s. This crucial detail is not set out in the ER; however, the full extent of the cascading facilities must be considered when detecting, measuring and reporting total GHG emissions (CH2, CH4 and N2O). This cascading system creates one very large artificial and ongoing multi-level series of reservoirs that are highly regulated through the WRWMP, and likely very high in GHG emissions.
The increasing role of hydroelectric reservoirs as GHG emitters and negative environmental effects has resulted in thousands of independent peer-reviewed studies laying out the facts. However, the hydropower industry and governments have done a thorough job of promoting waterpower through a powerful disinformation campaign to mislead the world into believing it is clean and non-emitting while turning a blind eye to the growing body of evidence to the contrary.
ORA strongly recommends that OPG begin the use of drone technology to detect, map and measure GHG emissions within the entire zone of influence of its hydroelectric facilities – in the upstream reservoir, turbine intake, spillway and downstream of the dam. This will ensure that those who have purchased clean energy credits from OPG are getting what is claimed – a clean and non-emitting source of electricity. All data should be placed in real-time on the OPG website and made available to researchers and the public.
In closing, the ORA requests that the Minister finally remove the label of clean and non-emitting from hydroelectric generation. Certification will mean nothing if there is no authentic and verifiable science-based method of reducing Ontario’s GHG emissions. Furthermore, it would be unethical and fraudulent to mislead the public and corporations into believing they are paying for clean and non-emitting electricity when they are actually paying to fuel climate change.
There are very few thriving Brook Trout populations left in southern Ontario, and it is especially surprising to find them present as far south as London, Ontario. Brook Trout are a sentinel species – the canary in the coal mine. In southern Ontario, Brook Trout populations have seen an 80% decline in their numbers over the last 50 years. Their populations have been under increasing pressure from a warming climate as well as agricultural, urban, rural and industrial development.
Removing the Dam and headpond to create a free-flowing and healthy coldwater Brook Trout fishery would be the perfect place for a family to go for walk, play or picnic in the Embro Conservation Area. It would provide a healthy riverine ecosystem and a beautiful natural environment for the entire community to enjoy!!
Dams and hydropower facilities harm the environment and, when headponds or reservoirs are flooded, can produce carbon dioxide and methane for the life of the dam. Ontario is about to embark on a whole new era of dam building. Ontario has 224 operating hydropower plants and only 3 with fish passage. By the way, Ontario Power Generation has been selling Clean Energy Credits for hydroelectric since 2013. NO MORE NEW HYDROELECTRIC DAMS IN ONTARIO!!
The ORA is pleased to partner with Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) in the Mill Creek Weir Removal Project. Mill Creek is home to an at-risk population of native Brook Trout, and the weir is a barrier to fish passage and prime habitat. Mill Creek is the lowest dam before its confluence with the Credit River.
The concrete weir is broken and cracked, and if individuals from the Brook Trout population were to breach the weir, they could be permanently trapped in a small pool on the other side, with no way back. Removing the weir will remove this hazard, open up 5 km of uninterrupted Brook Trout habitat, and increase Mill Creek’s resilience to a warming climate. The ORA applied for and received a $5,000 Lush grant towards the new detailed channel design. Continue reading →
When people refer to hydroelectric as clean, it’s usually in the context of GHG emissions; however, governments and utilities often use the term categorically and without caveat or qualification. Using the word “clean” in this context is misleading. Just because hydroelectric facilities are not spewing out smoke does not mean they are clean or renewable. In fact, waterpower has resulted in significant and ongoing impacts on water quality, water quantity, ecological processes, fish and wildlife populations and habitat, and to aboriginal communities. Hydroelectric also makes a significant daily contribution to the earth’s accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in our atmosphere.
Hydroelectric is not emission-free or clean. A Washington State University study on the effects of damming conducted in a central European impounded river revealed that the reservoir reaches are a major source of methane emissions and that areal emission rates far exceed previous estimates for temperate reservoirs or rivers. It showed that sediment accumulation correlates with methane production and subsequent ebullitive release rates. Results suggested that sedimentation-driven methane emissions from dammed river hot spot sites can potentially increase global freshwater emissions by up to 7%. Hydroelectric facilities need to acknowledge and account for the associated GHG emissions they produce.
 Maeck, A., DelSontro, T., McGinnis, D.F, Fischer, H., Flury, S., Schmidt, M., Fietzek, P. and Lorke, A., 2013. Sediment Trapping by Dams Creates Methane Emission Hot Spots, Environmental Science and Technology, 8130-8137, Online: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1021/es4003907
It is challenging to understand the logic of a November 2021 CBC article that reports, “The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund are two environmental groups that oppose new hydro dams because they can block fish migration, harm water quality, damage surrounding ecosystems and release methane and CO2. But they say adding turbines to non-powered dams can be part of a shift toward low-impact hydro projects that can support expansion of solar and wind power.” Whether it’s a new dam or an older retrofitted dam, they will result in the same negative impacts and produce the same amount of methane for 70 to 100 years or more.