Clean Energy Members Respond to Protect Fish

Clean Energy Producers Respond to Pending Freedom of Information Requests

VANCOUVER, June 7, 2013 /CNW/ - Small Hydro operators respond to protect fish in BC's rivers and streams. Recently, several hundred pages of correspondence and information covering the period September 2011 to October 2012 were released by the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations under provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOI) to an unidentified party.

Eight private companies who operate run-of-river hydro facilities are named in the FOI request.   For the twelve month period cited, a total of 59 incidences of non compliance were reported, most of which were ramping incidences (rise and fall of water levels) triggered naturally (slide or ice jam) or by equipment shut down (for safety reasons).

As required under terms of operating licenses, all incidences were reported to regulatory authorities.  The impact of these 59 incidences was 2 fry were killed and 4 other fry were salvaged and released from being stranded.

In all cases, the companies involved have reviewed their operating procedures.  In some cases changes have been made, i.e. how generating units are sequenced to start up after a shut down; or how the impoundment weir is inflated in steps to minimize water stage changes.  In many cases the non compliances are minimal and technical in nature; a few millimeter difference in water level rates outside a threshold.  As an example, if the stated requirement is that a flow change should not exceed a rate of no more than 2.5 cm over a period of time but an automated recorder indicates 2.6 cm, an incidence of non-compliance is recorded.  Materially, there may be no impact on fish or wildlife.  The 2.5 cm level itself may not have been tested for relevance, but was adopted pending further research and calibration.

Ramping occurs naturally in high energy river systems when slides, ice jams, or debris accumulate to create temporary dams.  These blockages can lead to dewatering which can strand small fish.  Ramping also occurs when an unexpected shut down of a hydro plant happens; due to an accident, malfunction or other natural events.  All ramping situations are reported to government authorities and the operating companies conduct searches for fry that might be salvaged and returned to the waterway.

The clean energy sector in BC is mindful of its responsibility to British Columbians and has commissioned an independent study into the possible impacts of small hydro projects on salmonids in BC. A report will be available in the fall 2013.

SOURCE: Clean Energy BC

For further information:

Paul Kariya 604-818-1827

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Clean Energy BC

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