by Edith Cody-Rice
On April 11, 2012 The Millstone made an access to information request to both the Ministry of Natural resources and the Mississippi Valley Conservation authority. The MNR responded with a demand for an excessive fee in excess of $600 for the review of over 600 pages of documents. The Millstone has complained to the Information Commissioner concerning the fee and the lateness of the response.
The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) advised the Millstone that it would take additional time (the legislated response time is 30 days) to consult with third parties, among whom would have been Enerdu.
On June 7, the MCVA wrote to me with the response reproduced here. (Click on the document to zoom in)
After its consultation, the MVCA refused to release the draft environmental review report produced by Enerdu. The Millstone will be complaining to the Information Commissioner about this omission. THe MVCA did, however, include the MCV comments on the Draft Environmental report which are reproduced here. (Click on the document to zoom in)
The e-mails reveal a lively correspondence among Mississippi Mills councillors in the month of March, 2012. Alex Gillis, who was in England at the time, expressed concerns about the possibility of reduced flow over the main falls in Almonte, the impact that summer construction will have on Union Street Sourth riverside properties, notably the Menzies House B&B and whether there would be any impact on power generation at the lower Mississippi River Power Corporation (MRPC) location. In response to the question about minimum residual flow, Paul Lehman, General Manager of MVCA, assured Alex that the Environmental Impact assessment produced by Enerdu indicated that a minimum residual flow of 1 m 3/5 would be maintained over the weirs.
On March 20, Pilar DePedro, a consultant hired by Enerdu, provided Alex Gillis, Diane Smithson and John Levi with a draft Environmental Assessment Report produced by Enerdu.Thus the council has been in possession of a copy of this document since that date. DePedro indicated that this was a confidential document that was not to be shared.
Scott Newton, General Manager of MRPC, indicated to Alex Gillis in an e-mail on March 13 that he did not anticipate any negative impact on the MRPC operation as a result of Enerdu's proposal.
The minutes of the Environmental Assessment Coordination Meeting which took place on Jylly 14, 2011, reveal that representatives of the Ministry of Natural resouces (Sarah Nugent, Anne Bendig), the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (Paul Lehman, Gord Montenay), Enerdu Power Systems (Ron Campbell), Bowfin (Michelle Lavictoire), OEL-Hydrosys (Tami Sugarman, Bill Touzel, Pilar DePedro, Muriel Kim), the Ministry of the Environment (Vicki Mitchell, Jon Orpana, Ruth Orwin), the Candian Environmental Assessment Agency (Dave Bell) and Transport Canada (Linda Beaulieu) attended. Enerdu proposed to upgrade the facility at the Old Flour Mills from 300 kw to 1 MW. It indicated that no new roads would be required except a small constrution phas access road to the riverbed. The meeting minutes note that the Enivironmental Assessment Review is open to regulators and the public.
Enerdu argued that it was not creating a peaking scenario by creating a head pond above the weir, but that the purpose of hoeramming out the reverbed was to maintain better control and that this would benefit the river, not energy production. It indicated that an administrative amendment to the Mississippi RIver Water Management Plan might be necessary but could not be done until the project was accepted. Enerdu also indicated that a certificate of approval might be required because of expected noise from the transformer.
The minutes note that because the Mississippi River is a navigable waterway, this would likely trigger a federal environmental assessment with separate notices and consultation.
Vicki Mitchell, Environment Planner for the Ministry of the Environment indicated that she is in favour of the project.
Enerdu stated that back pack shock fishing would no longer be possible in the main channel of the river due to water levels, but netting would still be available.
The Algonquin Indians of Ontario were consulted about the project and provided a response but this response was not included in the documents released.
The Ministry of Natural Resources demanded mitigation for the American eels which use the river.
The owhership fo the river bed was an open question at the meeting.
Enerdu indicated that while it is aware that the Mississippi River is a popular recreational area, no motorized watercraft have access to the area and that there is no public swimming in the vicinity of the project.
The proposed schedule planned for completion of the Environment Assessment by May of 2012.
Here is the Enerdu Project Description
The Millstone will continue to press for more documentation.