Tag Archives: fish

Hydro Impacts 101: The Trade-offs

We’ve been sold the idea that hydropower is a clean, green, and non-emitting energy source.
But this is far from the truth!💔🌱

Check out this eye-opening infographic and the full report below to learn more about the hidden environmental and socio-economic costs of these projects! 🌊💰

  • Hydro impacts 101: the trade-offs

Hydro Impacts 101 – The Trade-offs



Ontario Rivers are Under Assault

Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) is a Not-for-Profit grassroots organization with a focus on healthy river ecosystems all across Ontario. ORA members represent numerous organizations such as the Vermilion River Stewardship, French River Delta Association, CPAWS-Ottawa Valley, Whitewater Ontario, Mississippi Riverwatchers, along with many other stewardships, associations, and private and First Nations citizens, who have come together to ensure the rash of waterpower proposals currently going through the approvals process are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

We all want Green Energy, but let’s ensure it is truly Green, and not the “Green-washed” version that is being proposed for many Ontario rivers.  Let’s ensure that efficiencies and upgrades are made to existing hydroelectric dams before new ones are built. Let’s ensure fish passage and fish friendly turbines are installed.

Climate change is upon us, and WATER is quickly becoming our gravest concern.  Let’s ensure river developments take into account the best advice of climate scientists, and are sustainable for many years to come.

So What’s the Dam Problem?

Ontario rivers are being placed at risk by a rash of over 45 hydroelectric proposals that have been awarded FIT Contracts, and are moving through the permitting and approvals process. The Green Energy Act with its accompanying FIT Program is the only thing that has made many of these rivers feasible for waterpower development. The proponent can’t be told to stand down, and gets paid a 50% bonus for whatever power they can generate – with a 50% bonus to produce power during peak demand. This encourages developers to maximize power at the expense of the environment and public health and safety.

Ontario Rivers are in trouble because our government has put the developer in charge of the Environmental Assessment process, instead of the MOE and MNR, and there is no possibility of a “no outcome” – effectively placing the FOX in charge of the chicken coop!

Hydroelectric is not “Green” when river flow is held back in head ponds – it is in fact “Dirty Energy”.

1.    Bad for the River Ecosystem:

Dams that hold water back in headponds result in:

  • Degraded water quality
  • Lower downstream water levels and flows
  • Lower oxygen levels
  • Increased mercury in fish tissue – studies show a 10 to 20 times increase
  • Increased nitrate and phosphorus levels
  • Warming of water – sound like a recipe for more algae?
2.   Bad for Fishermen & Snowmobilers:
  • Turbines chop up and kill Fish and Eels
  • Fish migration for spawning is blocked
  • Prime Spawning areas are destroyed
  • Entire species of fish are threatened
  • Rapid rise and fall of river water levels on daily basis makes ice unsafe for ice fishermen & snowmobilers
3.   Bad for Our Health & Safety:
  • Increased mercury in fish tissue resulting in fish consumption restrictions
  • Conditions created by dams & their headponds can result in increased incidences of toxic blue-green algae
  • Many people rely on river water for their drinking water and daily household needs
  • Dams can fail from extreme weather events and flooding
  • Rapidly changing water levels and flow velocity can put fishermen, swimmers and boaters at risk
4.   Bad for the Community & Local Economy:

Ontario Rivers offer  a thriving eco-tourism opportunity for small businesses:

  • Prime fishing and tourist viewing areas are destroyed
  • Decline in fish populations, especially cold-water species
  • Habitat destroyed
  • Pristine and unique features are replaced with a concrete dam, chain link fence and warning sirens
  • Rivers with cycling or peaking hydroelectric dams make boating, swimming, fishing, and ice recreation unsafe within zone of influence
  • Tourists will not travel hundreds of miles to see where rapids, waterfalls and fish used to be

We invite you to join us in our mission.

“Our future generations are depending on us.”


Pimicikamak Okimawin opposed to Northern Manitoba dams

Excerpt – Read full article here.

 - Ivan Moose of Fox Lake Cree Nation speaks in front of a Pimicikamak flag outside the Mystery Lake Hotel in Thompson May during a protest against Manitoba Hydro’s dam development plans organized by Pimicikamak Okimawin while the Public Utilities Board was hearing from presenters inside as part of the Needs For and Alternatives To Review (NFAT) of ?the Crown corporation’s preferred development plan. - Nickel Belt News photo by Ian Graham

Members of Pimicikamak Okimawin – the traditional government of Pimicikamak, an indigenous nation that includes but is not equivalent to Cross Lake First Nation – and other Northern Manitoba communities affected by flooding from the building of Manitoba Hydro dams in the past gathered at the Mystery Lake Hotel in Thompson, which is owned by Nisichawaysihk Cree Nation, on May to voice their opposition to further dam-building while the Public Utilities Board was hearing presentations from the public inside as part of the Needs For and Alternatives To Review (NFAT) of the Crown corporation’s preferred development plan.

“Hydro talks about partnerships with First Nations,” said a printed copy of remarks made by Pimicikamak vice-chief Shirley Robinson, who spoke at the gathering. “But its northern partners only make up about one-third of hydro-affected Aboriginal people in the north. For two thirds of us – in Cross Lake, South Indian Lake, Norway House, Grand Rapids, Easterville and Moose Lake – this so-called new era is just the same as the old era. It is an era of disrespect.”

“Our people have said no more dams, our elders have spoken, our women have spoken,” said David Lee Roy Muswaggon, a member of Pimicikamak’s executive council, which along with the women’s council, elders’ council and youth council make up the First Nation’s traditional government structure. “They said no more dams because in the Northern Flood agreement they said, they promised to assess the cumulative effects of existing dams today. We can’t keep building dams without knowing what damage has been done to the current river and lake system for people that do not hunt, fish or trap. Thousands of miles have been eroded. The ecosystem has been destroyed and decimated. Spawning grounds, everything. Our fish are no longer healthy. Our animals are no longer healthy. People need to understand that hydro is not clean and green.” Continue reading


Effects of Dams & Waterpower on River Ecosystems, Fish & Fisheries: Not Green for Fish, by Dr. John M. Casselman, Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Biology, Queen’s University – Presentation to ORA at Annual General Meeting

Download (PDF, 6.68MB)


Experimental Lakes Research in Kenora Reveals just how Dirty Hydroelectric Really Is – Groundbreaking Information

Harper seals our fate on water and energy sustainability

By Emma Lui | March 5, 2013
Note:  This is an excerpt of the original article – access by clicking here.

The federal government states that Fisheries and Oceans Canada no longer need to do this type of research. And yet when we look at the research being conducted at the ELA, the scientific data is sorely needed for a sustainable energy strategy.

One ELA study assesses the effects of hydroelectric development. Hydroelectric dams are often touted as a ‘clean’ energy solution. However, the ELA study raises questions about whether hydroelectric dams have similar impacts as burning fossil fuels.

“There’s a new idea around that reservoirs may be significant sources of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. And we want to test that idea, ”says Drew Bodaly, Research Scientist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in this Experimental Lakes video (see below). Continue reading