Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit

Currie – Ivanhoe River – Natural Waterfalls – Third Falls and the Chutes

Proposed Hydro Energy Projects

Location: Ivanhoe River – natural waterfalls Third Falls and the Chutes – near the town of Foleyet, Ontario

 Proponent:  Xeneca

Statement:  The following information from here on in is not new.  It has all been put forward during both Open House, but there are still some questions that have to be addressed before judgments are passed.  I feel that the natural resources will be greatly affected by these two dams.  I am opposed to any construction of any hydro energy projects on the Ivanhoe River.

At this time, there are 45 dams proposed to be built on Ontario Rivers.  All are a major concern to outdoor enthusiasts.   It appears that over time, within the next decade or two, there will NOT be a natural water falls left in our province to view and enjoy, and there is no doubt this will fully impact our ecosystem and destroy some of our environment.  The values of natural waterfalls have a different aspect to Northerners than Corporate Ontario.  Tourist outfitters are dependant on natural resources as they are and not in the modified state to suite urbanites.

Not taking away from other dam projects, my concern at this time is the two dams on the Ivanhoe River project numbers 4LC17 – Third Falls and 4LC18 – The Chutes near the town of Foleyet.

After reviewing the project overview, there seems to be little concern for the areas stakeholders.  There are tourists from Canada and the USA that frequent the Ivanhoe River to fish, hunt, camp, canoe, view the scenery, and take pictures at both rapids.

There is a major concern that the construction and operation of these dams will impact the fish habitat, especially with run of the river and modified peak power periods.  This brings us to ask the following questions:

  • What foot print will construction have; the blasting, dredging, and excavation of the sites including the tail race?
  • Will the river bed and in stream structures be altered so as to impede the spawning of natural species Walleye, Speckles, Pike and Lake Sturgeon in the river and streams above and below the dams?
  • Will peak power operations deplete the head water pond on a daily schedule?  As stated in the project overview, 24 hour storage is rare but the head pond will have to be filled to produce power during high usage periods.  Will this cause erosion of the river banks and cause additional sediment to be produced to flow down streams and cover spawning and feeding areas?
  • Ivanhoe Lake is up stream from the Town of Foleyet.  The Lake has a man made dam which holds back water and is controlled by the Ministry of Natural Resources.  This dam has historical significance and provides a constant flow of water during dry seasons to the Town of Foleyet.  The water level in the River is kept constant so to provide enough water over the intake pipe for the Town’s water treatment plant.  There are concerns from the residents of Foleyet and Ivanhoe Lake that during the dry seasons that corporate greed looking for their $.18 kw peak power income will lower the reservoirs to feed the dams leaving both communities with not enough water for their intake pipes.  How is this going to be prevented?
  • Up stream from the dams – the Ivanhoe River runs through mostly sand and silt deposited from a pro-glacial lake 8 – 10 thousand years ago with very little gravel on its banks.  The structure of the river is continually changing year to year with erosion.  During high water, sediment and sand are transported down stream.  With the water being held back by these dams, there is a potential of these reservoirs being filled with sand and silt.  At some point in time, the aquatic spawning locations will be affected and potentially the reservoirs will eventually fill up and have to be dredged.  Why is there no mention of this in the project overview?
  • Will there be a potential for the thermal regime to be affected by the lowering of the head pond at peak power intervals?
  • During off peak periods when the reservoir is being filled, what consideration has been given to a continuous flow of water down stream to create the same oxygen levels as a natural water falls to sustain aquatic life?
  • Moose aquatic feeding areas are protected in forestry operations, what provisions have been made to protect these locations along the boundaries of the river?
  • Bald eagle nesting sites are also protected in forestry operation.  Why is there no data found by Natural Resources Solutions Inc., of eagles during there assessment period?  According to guests that stay at White Pine Lodge, bald eagles have been seen year round.  What impact will the fluctuation of water flow have on migratory birds nesting and feeding locations?
  • From my own experience, I have found by scuba diving in fast water and in the rapids that this is a staging area for spawning and feeding fish.  Why is there no mention of this in the Natural Resources Solutions Inc. report?  How will the dams affect these locations?
  • What is the strategy for lost fish habitat and spawning locations?  Should this project move forward?  The proponent should have to implement a recovery project and return fingerlings back into the Ivanhoe at both Locations, not elsewhere in the province.  Will spawning grounds be developed?  There is once again no mention of this in Natural Resources Solutions Inc. report.
  • What will be the social and economic impact to the tourist outfitters in the Foleyet area as well as tourists from Ontario and USA who frequent the areas?  A conservative estimate from the guests at White Pine Lodge alone would be approximately 150 days a year of fishing on the Ivanhoe.  Not to mention those who fish from the rocks and river banks below the falls.  The yield has been high with trophy fish being taken, will this continue or fall short on expectation?
  • What will the bypass flow be during low flow seasons, if power is generated?  We were told at the open house that water would always be flowing over the spillway.
  • What effect will the high/low water have on the ice during the winter months for the local residents who ice fish the river basin?
  • What will be the benefit to the people of Ontario if
  1. they have to pay 3 – 5 times more than what they are paying for electricity now
  2. a bonus is paid to Xeneca to have the dams running by 2015
  3. the proponent is paid $.125 kw for regular power and $.18 kw for peak power
  4. there is a delivery charge
  5. there is HST
  •  What will the end user pay?  Do you know who is funding these projects?
  • Can 3 – 5 mega watts of power sustain a mine or industry and how can industry get cheaper rates when it will cost more to produce power under the feed in tariff (fit) program?
  • What effect on the environment will installation and maintenance of the transmission lines have on streams and water crossing?
  • Why is there  no money put aside by Xeneca in the event that the dams will cease to function and will be required to return the land back to its natural state once it has ceased to be viable (like mining companies are mandated to do)?
  • If the esthetic value of both falls is lost and the fish population has a high potential for loss, then how can you say there will be “no net loss”?
  • Why does the project description have no data on pike, walleye, and speckle trout?
  • This was once a fur trade route – why has an archeology study not been done?
  • What guide lines are in place if for example the proponent has been refused permission to construct the dams?  Can this proponent or others reapply in the future?
  • The chutes and third falls will collectively only produce 8.7 mw of power.  At a cost of $5 million per mw, this relates to $43.5 million to construct both dams – there are the extras, over price for electricity.  Yes we will be paying 3 to 4 times more for electricity in the neat future.  This will be the breaking point for small businesses.  I would like to point out at this time that the proponent will be sitting back receiving royalty at our expense.  Is this what we want for power consumers?

There are still a lot of “unknowns, and lots of questions” to be answered.  There has to be a better solution for green power.  As stated by David Suzuki “We are the environment; what we do to our surroundings we do directly to ourselves because we are the environment.”


Hugh Currie

White Pine Lodge

Foleyet, ON