Hydropower

Protest Swells Against Proliferation of Quebec Hydro Dams

One of Canada’s oldest environmental organizations will work with other groups to launch a major petition against plans by the government of Quebec to allow 36 new hydro dams in the province.

OTTAWA, Ontario, CA, 2001-08-24 [SolarAccess.com] One of Canada’s oldest environmental organizations will work with other groups to launch a major petition against plans by the government of Quebec to allow 36 new hydro dams in the province. The Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society has joined with 25 other tourist and environmental groups to petition the government decision to allow private companies to develop and operate “small” dams located on 24 of the province’s rivers. The dams will have a capacity up to 50 megawatts, although “small” is usually used to denote capacity of 10 to 20 MW. The groups claim an expenditure, estimated to be C$750 million, will result in additional hydroelectric capacity of 425 MW in parks and other environmentally sensitive areas. They say will cause an environmental disaster and ruin several untouched rivers, as well as internationally renowned tourist sites such as the Sept-Soeurs rapids on the Rouge River, an hour from Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. CPAWS is particularly concerned about dam sites identified by the Quebec government along the Manitou River, at Aubin Falls, Wallace Falls, and La Grosse Chute. It says the watershed of the Manitou River, just east of Sept-lles, is virtually untouched and was identified by the International Biological Program in the 1970’s as one of three Natural Areas of Canadian Significance within the Laurentian Boreal Highlands that stretches from the Ontario border to Labrador. Studies by Parks Canada confirm that Manitou River is the best candidate for national park status in the region, says CPAWS. The petition says at least five other dam sites are located on salmon rivers and ten dam sites would be on major paddling rivers. “The contracts between Hydro-Quebec and the promoters of all power plants in the granting regime of the last decade, have already led to substantial losses for Hydro-Quebec” of $180 million in five years which have had to be absorbed by taxpayers and consumers, claims the petition.