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Category Archives: Rivers at Risk


Cost Comparison of Dam Repair/Rebuild vs Decommissioning + Before & After Pics

Jeff Graham, P.Eng., President, GSS Engineering Consultants Ltd., prepared this comprehensive table reporting on the cost comparisons between dam repair/rebuild vs. decommissioning.  These are actual completed projects, showing the before and after.   Check out the table:

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Bala Falls Small Hydro Project – Permit to Take Water

Area just below the Falls

Since this project was first proposed, a large percentage of the community of Bala Falls have been opposed to it.  Citizens have lobbied, marched, picketed, petitioned and railed against this abomination being built in the heart of their town.  Immediately downstream of the dam is a favourite public swimming and picnic area that draws local residents and tourists from far and wide.  This project will pose a public safety risk; however, there is no Public Safety Plan – it wasn’t included in the initial Environmental Report, nor was it adequately addressed.  It was unacceptable in 2012, and it’s still unacceptable – it should never have been approved in the first place.

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Ivanhoe River & Frederick House River – MECP Decision on ORA’s Part II Order requests

After reviewing the Project documentation, the issues raised by the requesters, and the outstanding concerns of technical staff, the MECP has determined that the project has not met the requirements of the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects.

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Springbank Dam – One River Class EA – Preferred Alternative – Joint Submission

Springbank Dam, Thames River, London, ON

Our organizations recommend choosing Alternative 3 – the Full Removal of Springbank Dam and the naturalization of this section of the Thames River.   We submit that full dam removal and naturalization are the preferred solutions from an environmental perspective and would likely prove to be the most cost-effective over the long-term when Life-cycle costs and available provincial and federal funding are considered.

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Riverside Dam Class Environmental Assessment – Speed River

Drought conditions could place additional stress on riverine ecosystems, while more extreme rainfall will heighten the risk of dam failures (18 dams were breached in a South Carolina flood in October of 2015) with rapid release of high volumes of water.  There have also been recent dam failures right here in Ontario – the Gorrie Dam failure last year in Wingham was the most recent, putting more than 150 property owners at risk.

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Parkhill Hydro Generating Station, Grand River

In September of 2016, the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) received a Feed-in-Tariff Power Procurement Contract from the IESO to sell power to the grid.  In June 2017, the GRCA initiated a Class Environmental Assessment to evaluate the construction of a waterpower project, the Parkhill Hydro Generating Station located at the existing Parkhill Dam in the City of Cambridge. If approved and constructed, this waterpower project would have a nameplate capacity of 500 kW. The project is subject to the provisions of the Ontario Waterpower Association “Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects.” Pursuant to the Class EA, this project is considered to be associated with existing infrastructure. Continue reading