Strong support for proposed hydro dam
By Carl Clutchey
The Chronicle-Journal (Canada)
Published February 5th, 2005
Support for a proposed hydroelectric station outweighs
opposition to the project by a substantial margin, paving
the way for the first utility to be built on one of Ontario’s
prime canoe routes, a final report shows.
Construction on the 23-megawatt “run-of-the-river” station
could begin as early as July on the White River about
30 kilometres southeast of Marathon.
The exact site includes Umbata Falls, a 30-metre waterfall
about 15 km upstream from Lake Superior and a mere 2 km
from the border of Pukaskwa National Park.
While a clear majority of respondents at open houses
held last year and in 2003 said they were in favour of
the project’s design, feedback wasn’t unanimous.
One reviewer, according to the report, opined that “the
river will be ruined forever.”
To be producing electricity as early as March 2007, the
station is to be built by Begetekong Power Corp., a joint
venture between Pic River First Nation and Innergex II.
The run-of-the-river design will require the construction
of an underground tunnel nearly 500 metres long in order
to channel water into two turbines housed in an underground
powerhouse located at the base of a treacherous gorge.
Electricity generated from the station will be fed into
the provincial hydro grid over a 23-km power line that
will connect to an existing 115-volt line just north of
the Trans-Canada Highway.
The report notes the White River is one of Ontario’s
most scenic canoe routes. It also mentions that the White’s
potential as a source of electric power has been known
for more than half a century.
A 1991 study by the Ministry of Natural Resources said
nine “economically-feasible” run-of-the-river sites on
the brown river could produce a total of 63 megawatts
of electricity — about 20 per cent of the government’s
recent request for new sources of renewable energy.
The Umbata Falls station is to become Pic River First
Nation’s third and largest utility. Hydro development
has made the band one of the most successful small reserves
The 200-km White River contains 60 rapids and falls.
About 180 canoeists, on average, have done the trip each
summer for the past 20 years.
In the report, about 60 per cent of people heading to
the site for recreaton said they would likely make a return
trip to Umbata Falls. Some said they hoped the construction
on the hydro station won’t change the esthetic values
of the route.
Anyone with environmental concerns about the project
must make them known by Feb. 28.
They can be e-mailed to the project’s consultant at firstname.lastname@example.org.