Documents obtained through an FOI request show BC government isn’t managing river diversion hydro in a “satisfactory environmental manner”

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The Province article ‘Horror shows’ on B.C. rivers: Government given an ‘F’ for handling of run-of-river power projects reports “The majority of run-of-the-river power projects in B.C.’s South Coast region are not being operated in a satisfactory environmental manner, according to Freedom of Information documents provided to The Province.”

The article quotes Marvin Rosenau, “We were told these things were going to be green, we were told they were going to be the next-best thing since sliced bread, and the reality is that it’s a bit of a mess right now. Some of them are just absolutely horror shows.”

The article continues, “Details of the ongoing problems are highlighted by internal government documents recently obtained by the Wilderness Committee through a Freedom of Information request and reviewed by The Province. The documents come from a July 2012 government workshop held at the Environmental Assessment Office in Victoria. The workshop was aimed at tidying up an industry that has had highly publicized issues with non-compliance. According to the workshop documents, at that time only four of 22 run-of-river projects in the South Coast region had satisfactory operational parameters and procedures in place. To get an updated picture, The Province asked the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations how many projects currently have satisfactory ratings. As of this month, there were two new projects in operation, but still a total of 18 of 24 with unsatisfactory operating procedures, according to an email to The Province from a ministry spokesman.”

For more information on impacts from river diversion hydro projects, see Watershed Watch’s report Tamed Rivers: A Guide to River Diversion Hydropower in British Columbia, as well as our River Diversion Hydro page.

2 Responses to Documents obtained through an FOI request show BC government isn’t managing river diversion hydro in a “satisfactory environmental manner”

  1. Paul Kariya says:

    Craig, Watershed Watch has uncritically republished inaccurate information carried on January 29, 2014 in the Vancouver Province abour OPPRs and compliance. Watershed Watch as a critic of run-of-river hydro also continues to refer folk to its in-house paper,Tamed Rivers.” This report contains assertions and statements which have not been tested or reviewed by peers; it is not a science based document but a polemical piece against an industry that is doing its best to improve its stewardship of the environment. I invite Dr. Orr to ask his scientific colleagues to independently review his paper and publish the results. Thank you

    • Trish Hall says:

      Thank you for your comment. The following is a reply from Craig Orr:

      “Thanks for the comment, Paul, but you may need to clarify your reference to republishing inaccurate information. The media story we linked to cites a government report on industry compliance and performance of interest to the public. If that report is deficient, Watershed Watch is interested to learn how, but currently has no basis to assume the reporter inaccurately reflected government findings.

      As to Tamed Rivers, you are inaccurate saying it is not science-based or peer-reviewed. A check of the references attests to the scientific review that went into this report. And the acknowledgements identify academic experts on cumulative effects, wildlife, salmon and river ecology we had review the various chapters for which they are experts. Our scientific approach has also led us to support academics currently attempting to quantify cumulative impacts and improve oversight and planning-areas the PSF-led industry review also highlighted for improvement.

      Not surprisingly, the consultants we hired to produce Tamed Rivers ran into many of the same problems the authors of the recently released, PSF-led review of operating projects encountered, which is perhaps best summarized by the statement from the reviewers who said, “In most cases the effects of the project on salmonid abundance cannot be assessed because there are no data, or monitoring data are deficient in some way.”

      Far from being polemic, we strive to improve the protection of BC’s salmonids by constructively furthering our understanding of the real and potential impacts of river diversion projects, thus contributing to our collective understanding of how this industry and wild salmonids might both benefit through improved monitoring and planning.”

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