by Catherine Blake
Thanks Maureen for getting a response from Ron Campbell. I would like to take issue with the responses of Ron Campbell, in several points, which the Mississippi RiverWatchers feel are misleading or have been answered in other ways at other times.
- Recreational Use of the River:
Mr. Campbell said, “ The recreational use of the river will not be changed at all.”
(a) At a public meeting in 2012, Mr. Cavanagh said that jumping from the RR bridge to the bubble—an old Almonte tradition– would no longer be possible.
(b) Depending upon the placement of signs and buoys, still not determined, fishing and boating will be restricted near the intake for the turbines, and at some point above the new dam.
- Will there be danger signs everywhere? Colourful buoys stretched across the river?
Ron Campbell’s answer to this question : “No, any “danger” signs would be limited to the roadside area, unless legislation forces them to be installed. There will be no buoys or fences across the river, but there likely will have to be buoys near the intake—this just makes sense, from a safety point of view.”
Of course there will need to be warning signs, and these will be determined by Navigation Canada, as required whenever a dam is over three feet high.
Have a look at what has happened in Appleton:
The picture below is also from Appleton; the ugly sign is right on the dam itself.
Navigation Canada is responsible for deciding what signs go up, so Ron Campbell cannot answer this question definitively. When this question was asked at the public meeting . Tami Sugarman (of the WESA group) suggested that concerned persons should try to be ”at the table” when Navigation Canada does its assessment and makes its decisions!
There is a chain or rope of red buoys strung across the river above this dam, also.
- “Fish generally have no issue with turbines.” That is not what he said when I asked him in an open meeting at the Town Hall in 2012 if fish would survive passing through the turbine, and he replied that only minnows would. Unless the design of the turbines has been altered since that meeting in 2012, according to that answer, you would no longer see this sight below after the new turbines are installed:
However, I did some research online, and found that survival rates for fish passing through different turbines varied from 45% to 95%. We would have to ask for specifics from Enerdu to ascertain what could be honestly expected from their turbine design.
If Enerdu were really interested in preserving fish travelling the river, I wonder if they could put a fish barrier at an angle from up river, past the intake, to a safe spillway.
- Eel ladders:
Ron Campbell said, “Enerdu must work closely with MNR people and the Algonquins of Ontario to ensure that the eel population is not affected.” At one point it was suggested that they might place the eel ladder at the small Thoburn Mill weir, but so far Enerdu has not contacted the Thoburn Mill Condominium about this matter. ( To be fair, our own hydro plant has not yet constructed one, either. )
- Absolutely “no change on the water level? “
This item calls for immediate comment:
“Ron pointed out that there will be absolutely no change to the status quo
water level. This water level was established long before Jeff Cavanagh
took over Enerdu (original owner was named Dupuis, and the name “Enerdu”
comes from “Energy Dupuis”). They cannot change the water levels from those recommended in the Mississippi River Water Management Plan (MRWMP) overseen by the Ministry of Natural Resources…in 2006.”
The implication here is that Enerdu must operate at the high summer levels
that have been in place for over a decade because the MRWMP requires that.
Actually, what the MRWMP does require is “The best management practices or
target range for this structure is 117.20 m to 117.70 m.” That is, not
operation at a particular level, but operation within a range of levels.
Full details of the MRWMP as applied to Enerdu will be found in Appendix B
of the recent MVFN Wetland Report.
In fact, Enerdu chooses to operate through the summer with levels near
117.70 masl, and it is this high level that is causing the wetland damage.
They could just as easily choose to operate at levels near the lower limit
of 117.20 masl, a level that would be compatible with healthy tree growth
in the wetland. This would be totally compliant with the MRWMP, and Enerdu
could do it on their own initiative at any time.
A further point is that if they were to adopt the lower level operation,
the present modest concrete weir (without flashboards) would be entirely
adequate. There would be no need for installing the massive Obermeyer weir
that is planned, with the consequent risks of damage to the upper falls
and the degraded appearance of the river.”
In addition to commenting on the discussion above, I have been asked a number of times if the RiverWatchers has asked for a direct meeting with Enerdu. As some of you will remember, at the end of the first public meeting that we called in April 2012, the Mr. Campbell did not seem interested in community input. Because of the lack of consultation, positions became rather adversarial fairly quickly, which we all regret now. I do believe we included a request for a meeting concerning several key questions at the end of a letter during the time of discussion of the Environmental Assessment put out by WESA, which discussion ended December 2012, but I cannot locate it now. There was a tremendous volume of correspondence with Enerdu during that time.
I do know that in June of 2012 I asked our mayor directly in his office, to arrange such a meeting, and he seemed happy to oblige, but nothing came of that. Bryn Matthews and Mike O’Malley have asked again in April and June of this year, for assistance from the Town to arrange such a meeting, once with Mr. Dalgity and once with Mayor Levi. We understand that Mayor Levi is on good terms with the Cavanaghs, and had hoped that he would be able to facilitate a meeting.