Our concerns are well documented in the attached Briefing Notes report, which has been prepared by our Coalition in the process of requesting a federal review under the Impact Assessment Act.
The ORA favours conservation of Ontario’s natural resources, and most especially as it relates to fish and their habitat. ORA agrees that the Ministry should apply existing federal government guidance for fines and increase the use of contravention tickets for more types of offences. It makes sense to issue tickets rather than using the federal court process.
ORA submits that the MECP’s priority must be the pursuit of its Statement of Environmental Values (SEV), and its vision and mandate of “an Ontario with clean and safe air, land and water that contributes to healthy communities, ecological protection, and environmentally sustainable development for present and future generations”[i]. There is nothing in the MECP’s SEV that promises to “remove the regulatory burden” from industry or “provide some cost savings for dam owners and operators”. It is not the MECP’s duty to save dam owners and operators money or ease their regulatory burden. Its duty is to fulfill its Mandate to protect the environment and to follow its promise of environmentally sustainable development for our present and future generations. Certainly, MECP’s priority should not be to cut regulatory burden at the expense of our air, land and water. It is a tragedy that today’s cost savings for dam owners and operators will be borne on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
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
Instead of exemptions or a more streamlined Class EAW, the OWA should be proposing amendments to provide for a much more rigorous and accountable process that ensures fish friendly turbines, effective and safe fish passage, a more rigorous cumulative effects assessment, and a more comprehensive and meaningful consultation process. We should be making our rivers more resilient in the face of climate change – not exempting waterpower projects from the Class EAW. Instead, the OWA and the Ontario government are placing our environment and communities at risk.
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:
Finally, the West Credit River is a headwaters tributary of the Credit River and is considered the crown jewel of coldwater brook trout fisheries in Ontario. This fishery significantly adds to the economic and social fabric of the province, with Ontario fisheries contributing a total of approximately $2.5 billion annually to the provincial economy. MNRF’s own documents predict that climate change will reduce the number of watersheds in Ontario with brook trout by 50% by 2050.
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 effects of dams and hydroelectric facilities on fish populations and fisheries have been well documented over the past century and include the loss or serious decline of many iconic fish species, which are resources of importance to Ontario’s economy, biodiversity, and natural and cultural heritage.