Update: The Upper Thames Conservation Authority went with the most popular, Alternative #4, which is to construct a naturalized channel with offline ponds/wetlands – see photo above.
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!!
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.
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.
A presentation made by the Chair at ORA’s 16 October 2021 Annual General Meeting:
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
Damaged in 2008, the end finally comes for Springbank Dam – 31 Jan 2024, Jack Moulton, London Free Press
Since early in 2016, the Ontario Rivers Alliance, Thames River Anglers Association and several other partners have advocated for the removal of the Springbank Dam on the Thames River. We are happy to report that the City of London is moving forward with its decommissioning.
A Consulting Engineer will be chosen to complete the detailed design for its decommissioning as per the recommendations outlined in the completed One River Environmental Assessment, with an aim for construction in 2021. We are looking forward to the project moving forward in 2021!
We will keep you informed as the project progresses.
Update: Huron Council voted to remove the dam in 2021 and, while the local Save the Dam committee continues to advocate for the status quo, once the final permits are received in 2024 the dam will be removed.
The motion, presented on Monday night, suggested by the committee calls for North Huron Council to approve an engineering study to determine the future of the dam and set out a schedule for fundraising for the rehabilitation of the structure. If that schedule cannot be met, however, the recommendation calls for the removal of the structure.
Howson Dam and Pond Citizens Community chairperson reacts to budget talks, 3 February 2023
Howson Dam – Out to Tender – bids due 20 October 2022
Howson Dam spillway to be tested, 23 Nov 2020
North Huron Council approves engineering study on Howson Dam, 9 July 2020
‘It’s going to be black or white’: North Huron council approves funding Howson Dam committee to speak to engineers, experts, 9 July 2020
Decision on Wingham’s Howson Dam Expected Next Month, 19 June 2018
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:
GUELPH –On September 10th, with the sounds of a jackhammer hammering in the background, the Hanlon Creek monitoring weir was removed within Preservation Park in the City of Guelph. The motivation behind the removal of the weir was multi-purpose. The project objectives were to remove the weir to improve the ability of fish to migrate upstream, while simultaneously lowering the upstream water level, which will narrow the channel and result in cooler stream temperatures.