RiverWatchers asked to meet with Enerdu on April 15 2014

Enerdu-6

The Millstone has learned that the Mississippi RiverWatchers asked for a meeting to start dialogue with Enerdu concerning its hydro electric project on April 15, 2014. Almonte resident Mike O’Malley sent the e-mail below  to Councillor Garry Dalgity on the recommendation of  Councillor Shaun Mclaughlin, who felt that as Mr. Dalgity had not been involved in the issue, would be a good elder statesman.

Subject: Briefing Note
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:34:15 -0400
From: Mike O’Malley <mike.omalley@sympatico.ca>
To: garry.dalgity@sympatico.ca

Briefing Note

Mississippi Mills Community and Enerdu

Community concern falls into two areas:

1)      Present issues

2)      Future issues

Before future issues can be understood, present issues should be addressed and would form the basis of an ongoing  dialogue.

Present issues

1)      Levels maintained by Enerdu have proven destructive to large areas of wetland forest.

2)      Erratic changes to water levels controlled by Enerdu  , especially during summer time long weekend periods,  impair river access at the public boat launches and create dangerous currents immediately upstream of the Enerdu facility.

3)      Access to the river bed area in Almonte, a popular summer time recreation area,  have become restricted as a result of Enerdu’s intervention.

Present situation

Throughout the Mississippi River water shed, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, Ontario Power Generation, Trans Alta and Mississippi Power Corp.  maintain open and cordial relations with the  community,  fostering open communication as a means to resolve issues. In contrast, the relationship between Enerdu and the community is adversarial.

Resolution

The community seeks a statesman to facilitate dialogue with Enerdu.

The Plan Forward

The diminished capacity of the Ministry of Natural Resources has reduced their effectiveness as stewards of our river systems. Communities across the province are turning to volunteer citizen scientists to fill the void.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and the Mississippi RiverWatchers are the two community groups active on the issue.

Mississippi RiverWachers have undertaken to create an accurate hydraulic model for reach 18 including establishing survey benchmarks at the top and bottom of the reach and are conducting an ongoing water levels measurement program.

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have undertaken a study of the Appleton Wetland die off and identified alterations is water levels as the cause.

The Mississippi RiverWatchers hydraulic model identified Enerdu operations as the cause of the water level change.

These two Mississippi working groups have identified a balanced water level regime that would restore wetland health, meet aquatic species needs,  meet community recreational requirements, appease riparian owners and  provide hydro generation continuance at the Enerdu site.

The Community Plan

The community is working  to establish a water level monitoring station in the environmentally sensitive areas of reach 18. The two Mississippi working groups plan to fund raise in the community this spring to build the monitoring system. It will be certified by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority as Accurate. The data will be publicly available for both ongoing research and compliance monitoring and will add to the body of data available to assist with programs such as flood prediction.

The community wishes to establish a test program and seeks the cooperation of Enerdu to manage water levels on a balanced regime for a period of five years starting in June 2014.

During the five year period, the Mississippi working groups would monitor and document wetland health recovery.

The Ask

Would Enerdu work with the community to establish a balanced operating regime for water levels to facilitate wetland health recovery?

Councillor Dalgity brought the matter before council shortly after this e-mail request. Mayor Levi suggested he should lead a delegation to confer with Enerdu, and agreed to be responsible for contacting the company. Council agreed. After no progress appeared to have been made, despite several follow-ups with Mayor Levi,  Mississippi RiverWatchers chair Bryn Matthews and Al Seaman arranged to meet with Mayor Levi on July 18. Matthews prepared the minutes of the meeting set out below and sent them to the Mayor. He has had no acknowledgement or  response from the mayor nor has he had a response to a follow-up call to the Mayor two weeks after the meeting.

Minutes of Meeting

Meeting at Mississippi Mills Council Offices – 11:10 AM – Friday, July 18, 2014

Present: MM. Mayor J. Levi, A. Seaman, B. Matthews

Matthews apologized for any confusion that resulted from the brief conversation with Mayor Levi in the corridors and stairway of the Municipal offices earlier in the month, which resulted in the interpretation by the Mayor that the RiverWatchers now “refused” to meet with the Enerdu principals. Matthews reiterated for the record, that he would never give the impression of a refusal to meet, and did not refuse to meet with Enerdu. In the corridor meeting it was unclear if the Mayor had made contact with Enerdu to arrange the meeting. Matthews did tell the Mayor he would be surprised if Mr. Cavanagh accepted the request. Matthews suggested a clarification by the Mayor was in order, but did not press the case.

Matthews and Seaman asked the Mayor to reactivate the request for a meeting with Jeff Cavanagh. Mayor Levi agreed to request the meeting with Mr Cavanagh and Mr. Campbell.

The conversation turned to the Mayor’s characterization of the RiverWatchers as purveyors of “Misinformation” and “Special Interests”. No specific instances of misinformation were forthcoming. As for special interest, the Mayor indicated a great number of Mississippi Mills residents are in favour of the Enerdu redevelopment, and the special interest opposition is a minority voice.

There was discussion about the evidence of damage to the ecology (soft maple die-off) along the shores of Reach 18. Mayor Levi pointed to the MNR opinion that there was no proof that the continuing hold back of water in the dry season had created the die back.

Mayor Levi stated his position that the Enerdu project is a “reasonable business, fitting into the community.” He indicated he is not in favour of the one year moratorium on development in the defined heritage area, as provided in the Heritage Designation application regulations. He believed that provision is being used as a delay mechanism, and not applied as it is intended.

Matthews informed Mayor Levi that there is now a new ad-hoc group of opposition to the Enerdu expansion, which is not part of RiverWatchers. StopEnerdu will be far more socially active and entirely different than RiverWatchers. The work of the RiverWatxchers has largely concluded, having focused on careful analysis of the Enerdu expansion plans as published, followed by written submissions to and meetings with the staff in the various Ontario Ministries, the Office of the Premier, MVC, Mississippi Mills Council members, and the Steering, or advisory Committee of the Mississippi River Water Management Plan. At this time a reduced role of the RiverWatchers will be to provide copies of its documentation and correspondence to those who request it.

Seaman and Matthews repeated the request to Mayor Levi that he ask Mr. Cavanagh to meet with us. The Mayor agreed to make the request.

Meeting concluded at 12:05.