Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit

Petawawa River Hydroelectric Proposals

Summary of the Project

Two projects on the Petawawa River.  One at Half Mile Rapids, entirely on DND property, the other at Big Eddy, right in the middle of Town.

Description of the Issues

These sites have not previously been dammed in any way

  • Aesthetic degradation due to reduced flow in bypassed section of the river
  • Impact on kayak/canoe navigability. This is a world-class kayaking site
  • Fish habitat, migration.  Sturgeon are acknowledged to be in the river.  Proponent PD says there is “no known bypass solution”.  Also, there are many other non-SAR game fish.
  • Public safety:  there is a heavily used recreation area 500 meters downstream of the proposed dam.  Varying river flows, either intentional or resulting from failure of the computer control system, mean that the users of this area are at risk
  • Contempt for Public Consultation component of the EA.  Proponent generally ignores questions, or gives vague general answers.  Presentations have so far been “content free”
  • Insufficient documentation to assess potential environmental impact.  PD is conceptual only
  • Big Eddy switched from unmanaged to managed waterway.  This omits the “Notice of Inspection” opportunity for public review.
  • Document baseline is uncontrolled.  Documents get revised, removed at the proponent’s whim, and there is no revision record
  • The proponent is attempting to deviate from the published Class EA process.  He wants to have a draft of the ER reviewed by the regulators.  In other words, he wants to have two tries at seeing just how much he can get away with.
  • Erosion of the south bank of the river and the foundation of the Petawawa Blvd bridge appears to be a distinct possibility.
  • Lack of clarity on peaking vs. run-of-the-river.  This greatly affects the area of influence.

What the reader can do about it?

Within the rules: Read the available documentation.  Ask Xeneca specific questions to improve your understanding of possible areas of environmental impact. cc their environmental consultant Track responses using the scoring template on our website.  Let us know how they do:  Notify proponent of areas of serious concern (see Class EA #8.6.1), and advise that a Part II Order request will result if these concerns are not satisfactorily resolved.  When Notice of Completion is published, send a letter listing these concerns to the Minister of the environment, and request that the project be switched to an individual EA.  But the concerns must be backed up by solid technical information and referenced to existing documentation, previous answers to questions, etc.

Change the Rules: The Opposition does appear to be committed to giving back some decision making power to the municipalities.  However, it is not yet clear whether this would happen soon enough to save the Petawawa, so don’t put all your eggs in this basket.

Write to the provincial MPs, opposition critics,, Cheryl Gallant, etc. To advise them of your concerns.

Link to website, if available

Contact person for more information:

Dr. G. Alan Hepburn,, 613 687 4320