Whitewater Ontario's Position:
Whitewater Ontario (WO) is a volunteer-driven organization uniting, supporting, and sustaining the inclusive development of the whitewater paddling community and resources.
Position Statement on Hydro Projects:
Whitewater Ontario recognizes and supports efforts to protect and preserve the natural environment.
WO recognizes that hydro power is considered a renewable and green source of generating electricity.
WO recognizes the important role that hydroelectricity plays in helping meet the power needs of Ontarians while minimizing environmental damage.
WO is adamant that any proposed new hydro development or substantial retrofit or reconstruction project on existing facilities make every effort to sustain, protect or improve the access to and availability of whitewater rivers for the benefit of all. It places the greatest priority on ensuring that rivers remain in their natural (unaltered state) whenever possible.
Our diverse membership of over 400 includes recreational paddlers, high performance slalom athletes, open boaters, and freestyle competitors. While our membership is diverse and representative of many whitewater disciplines, members of Whitewater Ontario share a common belief about river access and the preservation of existing waterways for current and future generations.
WO has the following concerns with the “Big Eddy” hydroelectric generating scheme on the Petawawa River, currently being proposed by Xeneca Power Development Inc.
Protection of the Rights of Navigability:
The Petawawa River “Town Section” currently sees more than 1000 paddler trips per year. For the majority of the year, the proposed project will render a large sections of that river unnavigable through the reduction of flows and the construction of a river-wide weir. The Project Description makes provides no assurance that navigability will be maintained.
The Project Description, and previous correspondence with the proponent has made it clear that the Big Eddy hydroelectric project will drastically reduce flows through the “Railroad” Rapid (a.k.a. Trestle; inaccurately referred to as Big Eddy) rendering it unnavigable. Pending operational schedules, while the reduction in flows downstream of the project site may still provide for navigability it will gravely affect the quality of the experience, the safety of the users and the natural environment. To prevent this, at all times flow rates downstream of the turbine must be maintained at the same rate at which they exist upstream of the project. Inflow must equal outflow
The Petawawa River Town Section is located in a populated area, and in addition to use by whitewater paddlers it is common to find both children and adults swimming, fishing in and around the river. The Project Description provides no detail on how the safety of those downstream of the dam and powerhouse will be assured. This is particularly relevant due to likelihood of fluctuating water levels and flows on a daily basis.
The Project Description provides no assurance that public access to ‘affected reach’ of the Petawawa River nor the immediate vicinity of the powerhouse outflow will be provided for. This is relevant to access via watercraft, swimmers or pedestrian traffic. Navigable waterways are public resources and access should not be restricted.
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