The City of Cambridge is moving forward on a detailed design plan of the new rebuild of Riverside Dam on the Speed River. Construction is planned for 2022 and work set for completion in 2023. Meanwhile, the full price tag won’t be known until the dam’s design plan has been finalized. This dam has been determined to be at “high risk” of failing within the next 2 to 10 years.
ORA worked extensively towards the decommissioning of this dam. Removing the dam would have been much cheaper, safer and healthier for the riverine ecosystem.
Ontario has hundreds, if not thousands of dams that are unsafe and no longer serving any useful purpose. These dams are blocking fish passage, degrading water quality, fragmenting habitat, threatening species at risk and sensitive cold water species. ORA is working to take them out. Check out this excellent overview of the problems with hydropower:
This film explores the evolution of our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of wild rivers. Produced by Matt Stoecker & Travis Rummel Directed by Ben Knight & Travis Rummel.
On September 28, 2018, you requested, on behalf of the Ontario Rivers Alliance and other partners, that the City be required to prepare an individual environmental assessment for the replacement of Riverside Dam. I am taking this opportunity to inform you that I have decided that elevating the project to an individual environmental assessment is not required.
Looking downstream at Howson Dam on the North Maitland River.
On 23 – 24 June of 2017, the upstream Gorrie Dam failed and the Howson Dam was at capacity during an extreme rain event and flood when 175 mm of rain fell in just 7 hours, placing more than 150 property owners at risk and resulting in an estimated $11-million in damages in the Town of Harriston. This severe rain event broke previous records by approximately 40% and was the second highest flow on the North Maitland in the 48 years of record. Fortunately, no one was killed; however, it could have been much worse, as in October of 2015, when a South Carolina flood breached 18 dams, and resulted in 16 deaths.
Springbank Dam, Photo by Paul Roedding Photography
Since last December, it is difficult to recall a week that has gone by where some sort of new major twist hasn’t happened with this story. Late in 2015, the Thames River Anglers Association (TRAA) and the Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) brought together a coalition of 20 different organizations, representing over 250,000 members, to jointly sign on to two letters sent to the City of London’s Mayor and Council requesting decommissioning. Continue reading →
ORA’s report, Hydro Impacts 101: The Trade-offs, identifies some of the environmental impacts that can and do occur at dams and waterpower facilities. It will become clear that waterpower is seldom clean or green, and that some rivers should not be dammed at all. In addition, this Report recommends some ways of reducing the impacts, and of improving the regulatory process for waterpower in Ontario. Read our report here…. Continue reading →
The hydro lobby is very powerful and deep pocketed, and has gone to great lengths to undermine and debunk studies that clearly demonstrate the significant contribution that reservoirs make to total world GHG emissions.[i] Shifts in water temperatures, or the availability of fresh water due to climate change could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity in more than two thirds of the world’s power plants between 2040 and 2069, said a study from an Austrian research centre. In fact, Keywan Riahi, Director of the Energy Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis says, “power plants are not only causing climate change, but they might also be affected in major ways by climate”.[ii]
[i]Hydro Power’s Dirty Side, Montreal Gazette, by William Marsden, Postmedia News April 15, 2011. [Article disappeared from Montreal Gazette’s website shortly before COP-21].
Mariëtte provided an overview of the Natural Channels Initiative, Natural Channel Design Principles, Watercourse Restoration and Dam Removals, and Regulatory Agency Roles and Challenges. She drew on her own experience and that of her colleagues at Ecosystem Recovery during the presentation.