Millions have lived without love. No one has lived without water.




Local Residents Oppose Timmins Area Hydro Project

Freshwater Aquaculture - a boon or a bane?

Province Pushes Ahead with Hydro and Wind Sites

MNR Releases Draft "Site Release and Development Review Policy for Waterpower"

Provincial Government Releases White Paper on Watershed-based Planning

Water Management Planning Moves Ahead in the Northeast

Water Management Planning Underway for Northeastern Rivers

Scoping Sessions Announced for Montreal and Matabitchuan River Water Management Plans

Water Management  Planning Postings on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry

Mattagami and Abitibi Rivers       Montreal and Matabitchuan Rivers       Blind River        Wanapitei River




Local Residents Oppose Timmins Area Hydro Project

Like so many environmental issues that pit industry against local citizens, Timmins is preparing to debate the demand for electricity and the demands for wild natural spaces for ecotourism and individual enjoyment.

Timmins is facing some tough choices. The building of a four megawatt hydro generating station threatens the social, historic and healthy lifestyle values of this community. How do you compare 4 MW of power, enough to service 300 homes, with the out-of-door experiences that many people consider vital to our way of life in Northern Ontario?

Over a 1.5 km distance the Grassy River drops over 30 metres ending in a mighty waterfall and pool. The rocky chasm that encloses the river is astonishing and awe inspiring during the spring flood but dries up to a shallow stream during the mid to late summer and fall.

High Falls is located only 23 km from downtown Timmins and is easily accessible by road from each side of the river. It is only a 10 minute walk to the rapids from a parking area. All this is within Timmins city boundaries.

Two years ago we were told by a Special Advisory Committee the river was considered unsuitable for power development due to the insufficient flow. This changed on October 31, 2007 when the hydro project was announced.

Twenty kilometres further upstream of High Falls, there is a flood control dam protecting the City of Timmins. To protect the city, water levels behind the dam are raised and lowered about 17 feet each year.

Five years ago there was no ecotourism business in Timmins. The potential was untapped. Today there are three businesses taking clients on outdoor recreation experiences that use the Grassy River. High Falls is the highlight of the trip. The economic value to these businesses is now in excess of $100,000 a year. The value of ecotourism is escalating and those businesses that have invested in this growth segment of our economy are devastated.

The fight is not easy. Speaking out against hydropower generation is akin to arguing against motherhood when you consider the fact that it is a clean and renewable source of energy, but the City Council of Timmins, at a recent meeting spoke out loud and clear. In this instance they want to keep the river as it is for the enjoyment of their citizens and visitors.

A public meeting was held by the Friends of High Falls in early February to allow Timmins citizens to voice their concerns and have their comments recorded These comments will be included in the data collected for the Environmental Screening process currently being undertaken by Hatch Energy of Niagara Falls.

Friends of High Falls on the Grassy River have made their decision. The hydro generating station must be stopped. Although we all use electricity, in this one unique instance, we believe a natural state must be preserved for this and future generations.

For further information contact Grant Tunnicliffe grantt1@mac.cm or check out the Friends website a

http://grassyriver.blogspot.com

Northwatch News - Spring 2008


Freshwater Aquaculture - a boon or a bane?

A conflict is brewing - or raging, in some quarters - over whether freshwater aquaculture is a good thing or is something that is ruining our pristine waters. The debate even rages within different departments of the same government ministries, with conflicting objectives of expanding private commercial open net-cage aquaculture operations or protecting aquatic ecosystems.

The Northern Ontario Aquaculture Association (NOAA), representing some 13 open cage farmers and fish processors, was founded in 2003 with a $157,500 grant from FedNor and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The balance of the $265,000 startup cost was provided by the private sector. Marcel Gervais and his son Bruno Gervais, who also run Gervais Forest Products, are hoping to turn the Sudbury region into the fish farming capital of Northern Ontario by raising tens of thousands of rainbow trout and arctic char.

Environment Canada, along with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, initiated a working group comprised of industry operators, academics, government representatives from MNR, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ontario Ministry of the Environment. It is called the Ontario Sustainable Aquaculture Working Group (OSAWG) and its mandate is to co-plan and fund ongoing experimental projects in an attempt to reduce the degradation of fish habitat and water quality by freshwater aquaculture operations.

Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the lead agency for aquaculture, wants to ensure that Canada's aquaculture industry continues to grow. In its Aquaculture Policy Framework of 2002, and its "Strategic Plan: Our Waters, Our Future, 2005-2010," it announced that it intends to tap into Canada's "enormous potential to be a world aquaculture leader based upon the strength of its extensive coastal and freshwater resources." It aims to remove the "cumbersome regulatory framework and trade barriers that keep Canada from realizing its potential."

The market demand for Salmonid species, which includes Rainbow Trout farmed in Georgian Bay, is growing exponentially. DFO has yet to make distinctions between freshwater and marine aquaculture. They are drafting a detailed plan for the development of aquaculture across Canada over the next decade.

It is well established that there are serious water pollution concerns related to aquaculture. Chemical contamination concerns revolve primarily around the issue of eutrophication, which refers to the nutrient enrichment of natural waters. As nutrient levels increase (primarily phosphorus), plankton blooms occur, water clarity is reduced, dissolved oxygen levels are reduced, and coldwater fish species are eliminated. Moreover due to eutrophication, exotic species like zebra mussels and round gobies are altering food webs. As a result, natural systems are being stressed and native species, like diapeoria, have declined or are threatened

For many First Nations, protection of native fisheries and the natural ecosystems upon which these fisheries depend is the highest priority. The Pike is an example. As a top predator it is critical to the health of the ecosystem and is highly valued as a recreational resource. For First Nations peoples it has essential social and cultural value that introduced species such as rainbow trout do not possess. Populations of native sportfish have been in decline for many years. This crisis has been recognized by the public and MNR. People living in First Nation communitues are greatly concerned about the negative impact cage culture operations may have on  species such as Lake Trout, Pike, Walleye and Muskie, given that  escapees compete  for food and for habitat with native species.

Aquacuture operations are currently up and running in the North Channel or Lake Huron, in the Sudbury basin, and in the Timmins area.

Written by Naveen Ahuja, with excerpts  from an article by Claudette Pintwala, Member Georgian Bay Association.
 




Province Pushes Ahead with Hydro and Wind Sites

Last November, the government called for Expressions of Interest to identify potential waterpower sites. In early March, the Ministry of Natrual Resources announced that fifty-seven applications were received of which 18 sites have been approved as appropriate for development.

Three of the 18 sites are in northeastern Ontario. They are on the Grassy River near Timmins, Fourbass Lake near Temagami, and the Wanapitei River near Eastaire. The successful proponents will now have 120 days to submit their development proposals for those sites to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The sites selected have potential for producing between 200 and 300 megawatts of hydroelectric energy.

Minister of Natural Resources David Rasmsay also announced a six month windo of opportunity, starting April 1, for companies or individuals to submit proposals for sites for wind power development on Crown land. This follows approval in January of applications from 16 private companies to assess wind power potential on 21 CRown land sites.

Contact the nearest district office of the MNR for environmental assessment details.

Northwatch News, Winter / Spring 2005




MNR Releases Draft "Site Release and Development Review Policy for Waterpower"

A draft "Site Release and Development Review Policy for Waterpower" has been released for comment until June 1, outlining the procedure the Ministry of Natural Resources will use to make decisions about the disposition of crown land (and water) and the development of potential waterpower sites.

The policy focuses on the release of Crown land greenfield sites, and details the proposed procedure for the release of new development sites, the approval process, tenure, and rental rates and taxes. Greenfield sites will be released through either a competitive site release process, or a direct site release process.

Open houses will be held in Timmins and Sudbury. The draft is online at http://204.40.253.254/envregistry/022737ep.htm




Provincial Government Releases White Paper on Watershed-based Planning

A recently released provincial government White Paper on watershed source protection will be the subject of a one day session in Sudbury on March 12, as the Ministry of the Environment tours the province seeking comments from "regional and local source-protection stakeholders and experts" on the white paper and related initiatives.

According to the McGuinty government, watershed source protection planning focuses on protecting the safety and sustainability of drinking water supplies, rather than the broader approach of focusing on all ground and surface water supplies.

The Walkerton Inquiry made 22 recommendations related to source protection, including a recommendation that source protection plans should be required for all watersheds in Ontario. The Walkerton Inquiry's "ingredient list" for watershed-based source protection plans included:developing a water budget for the watershed or a plan to develop a water budget; identifying all significant water withdrawals, including municipal intakes; identifying and mapping land use for the watershed; identifying wellhead areas; mapping areas of groundwater vulnerability; identifying all major sources of contamination in the watershed; modeling the fate of pollutants in the watershed; identifying areas where a significant direct threat exists to the safety of drinking water; and identifying significant knowledge gaps and/or research needs to help target monitoring effort

On December 18th the Minister of the Environment, Leona Dombrowski, announced a one-year moratorium on water taking permits and named members to two new advisory committees which will advise on the development and implementation of the government's eventual watershed based planning. Unfortunately, the announcements were of limited comfort in northern Ontario. The moratorium exempted the pending water taking permit to drain the south pit at the Adams Mine, as well as all water taking for mining and aggregate extraction. Indeed, the coverage in northern Ontario is limited to those four areas where there is a Conservation Authority in place, ie a very small percentage of the region. The 21-member Implementation Committee has no representatives from northern Ontario; the 16-member Technical Experts Committee has one member from northeastern Ontario.

The White Paper on Watershed-based Source Protection Planning was, according to the Ministry of the Environment's own summary, developed to "consult with Ontarians on the proposed approach for the development of a locally-driven watershed-based source protection process. The White Paper provides information on the planning aspects of proposed source protection legislation, improvements to the permit to take water program and the principles and factors related to implementing a system for charging for water takings." Section One provides context for the discussion on source water protection; Section Two provides some background on source water protection; and Section Three discusses the proposed planning components of source water protection legislation such as the organization, preparation, roles and responsibilities, approvals and appeal process for source protection plans.
 

Comments are being accepted until April 12. Copies of the White Paper can be found on-line at www.ene.gov.on.ca/ programs/3585e01.htm or by calling 416 314-4130.
 



Water Management Planning Moves Ahead in the Northeast

The Ministry of Natural Resources has embarked on an ambitious program to develop water management plans for all of the major rivers in northeastern Ontario, in response to changes to the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and under its "New Business Relationship" with the Water Power Industry.

After a century and a half of water power generation in Ontario, there are currently over 200 hydro generation stations in the province, owned by 83 different companies and producing a quarter of Ontario's electricity supply. In November 1999, an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources - Waterpower Industry Task Force recommended the establishment of a Waterpower New Business Relationship, which in turn recommended the development of plans for the management of flows and levels on rivers having waterpower facilities and control dams. As a result, between 2001 and 2004, Water Management Plans (WMPs) that set enforceable operational requirements for the management of water flows and levels will be required for all rivers with water management facilities. The proponent-produced water management plan must be approved by MNR to ensure the plans are "balancing" the economics of waterpower with social and environmental considerations.

MNR has developed water management planning guidelines and accompanying Aquatic  Ecosystem
Guidelines. The Water Management Planning Guidelines are to provide overall direction for water management planning in Ontario, while the Aquatic Ecosystem Guidelines are to "provide guidance to protect and enhance the aquatic ecosystem during water management planning so that waterpower resources are
managed in an ecologically sustainable manner". MNR notices describe the Water Management Planning
process as one that "aims to maximize the net environmental, social and economic benefits derived from how the water control structures of the ... River systems are operated through the manipulation of water flows and levels."

However, some organizations are expressing concern. The Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association describe their members as having expressed strong concerns about lake levels, flood control, access, property damage, impact on water quality, flood management, impact on fisheries, liability, downstream impacts, navigation and more.

The first phase of the process  involves a review of existing Operating Plans and the development of a scoping report. Subsequent phases include the development of options (Phase 3), the production of a draft plan (Phase 4), and a final plan (Phase 5). Planning processes underway across the northeast are in various stages, from the Spanish and Vermillion rivers which are just getting underway and are in the first steps of Phase I, to the Michipicoten and Montreal Rivers, which have plans in Stages 4 and 5. Unlike other river systems in the northeast, the water management planning for the Michipicoten and Montreal Rivers began prior to the development of the water management planning guidelines. Local Ministry of Natural Resources offices will
serve as an information point for the water management planning processes.
 
River System Plan Stage MNR Contact Person
Abitibi River Phase 3 Robin Stewart, Cochrane District, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 705 272 7111 Email robin.stewart@mnr.gov.on.ca
Blind River Phase 4 Ray Lipinski, Blind River area office, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 705 356 2234 x232 Email raymond.lipinski@mnr.gov.on.ca
Mattagami Phase 3/4 Joel Holder, Timmins District, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 705-235-1383 Email joel.holder@mnr.gov.on.ca
Michipicoten Phase 4 Colin Blakemore, Wawa District, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 807 826 3225 Email colin.blakemore@mnr.gov.on.ca
Missisaugi Phase 2/3 Ray Lipinski, Blind River area office, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 705 356 2234 x232 Email raymond.lipinski@mnr.gov.on.ca
Montreal Phase 5 Colin Blakemore, Wawa District, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 807 826 3225 Email colin.blakemore@mnr.gov.on.ca
Montreal & Matabitchuan Phase 3 Rob Sanderson, North Bay District, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 705 475 5526 Email RSANDERSON@ndm.gov.on.ca
Spanish-Vermilion Phase 1 Eric Cobb, Sudbury District, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 705 564-7857 Email eric.cobb@mnr.gov.on.ca
Wanapitae Phase 2 Eric Cobb, Sudbury District, Ministry of Natural Resources 
Tel. 705 564-7857 Email eric.cobb@mnr.gov.on.ca

Forest File, September 2003

Water Management Planning Underway for Northeastern Rivers

The Ministry of Natural Resources has embarked on an ambitious program to develop water management plans for all of the major rivers in northeastern Ontario, in response to changes to the Lakes and Rivers Improvement Act and under its "New Business Relationship" with the Water Power Industry.

According to MNR notices, the Water Management Planning process "aims to maximize the net environmental, social and economic benefits derived from how the water control structures of the ... River systems are operated through the manipulation of water flows and levels." Other MNR documents provide a somewhat different emphasis, describing the goal as being to "contribute to the environmental, social and economic well being of the people of Ontario through the sustainable development of waterpower resources and to manage these resources in an ecologically sustainable way for the benefit of present and future generations".

Coupled with the Premier's November 13th announcement that the threshold for an environmental assessment exemption for "clean" generation is to be raised to 100 MW, the latter description sounds a cautionary note to those who might treasure the wild nature of some of northeastern Ontario's still undeveloped river stretches, for their recreational, wilderness, tourism or ecological attributes.

The first phase of the process will involve a review of existing Operating Plans and the development of a scoping report. Subsequent phases will include the development of options, the production of a draft plan, and a final plan.

MNR has developed water management planning guidelines and accompanying Aquatic Ecosystem Guidelines. The Water Management Planning Guidelines are to provide overall direction for water management planning in Ontario, while the Aquatic Ecosystem Guidelines are to "provide guidance to protect and enhance the aquatic ecosystem during water management planning so that waterpower resources are managed in an ecologically sustainable manner".

To date, invitations to participate have been issued for water management plans being developed for the  Mattagami and Abitibi Rivers in the Moose River basin, the Montreal and Matabitchuan Rivers in Timiskaming Distict, the Blind River and Missisaugi Rivers flowing into the North Channel of Lake Huron, and the Wanapitei River near Sudbury. Water management plans were developed in the late 1990's for the Montreal and Michipicoten Rivers, flowing into Lake Superior, prior to the finalization of the Water Management Planning and Aquatic Ecoystem Guidelines.

Local Ministry of Natural Resources offices will serve as an information point for the water management planning processes.

February, 2003


Scoping Sessions Announced for Montreal and Matabitchuan River Water Management Plans

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is requiring a Water Management Plan be developed for the associated storage and generating facilities of the Montreal and Matabitchuan River Systems. Facilities owners, Ontario Power Generation Jnc.(OPG I), Canadian Hydro Developers Inc.( CHD I), Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), MNR, and the Town of Latchford (which is negotiating to acquire the Bay Lake Dam to develop a generating station) will cooperatively prepare the Water Management Plan for these waterways to ensure that concerns or issues related to the current water management operating plans are addressed.

Link to Announcement of March 3, 4 & 5 Scoping Sessions in Elk Lake, New Liskeard and Latchford

February 2003

Water Management  Planning Postings on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry:

Water Management Plan for the Abitibi River Review of Background Information/ Scoping Workshop

Water Management Plan for the Abitibi River Invitation to Participate

For more information contact:

Mattagami and Abitibi Rivers

Michael Cartan, Ministry of Natural Resources, email mike.cartan@mnr.gov.on.ca or tel 705 272 4115
Mario Durepos, Ontario Power Generation, email mario.durepos@opg.com or tel 705 267 7033 x 2064

Montreal and Matabitchuan Rivers

Rob Sanderson, Ministry of Natural Resources, email RSANDERSON@ndm.gov.on.ca or tel 705 475 5526
Mario Durepos, Ontario Power Generation, email mario.durepos@opg.com or tel 705 267 7033 x 2064

Blind River

Ray Lipinski, Ministry of Natural Resources, email raymond.lipinski@mnr.gov.on.ca or tel 705 356 2234 x 232

Wanapitei River

Lynn Moreau, Ministry of Natural Resources, Sudbury District Office, tel 705 564-7868
David Servos, Ontario Power Generation Evergreen Energy, North Bay, tel 705 472-5568
 

For more information about the Ministry of Natural Resources Water Management Planning visit:

http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/waterpower/