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Narrows Inlet Hydro Project given conditional environmental assessment approval

Narrows Inlet Hydro Project given conditional environmental assessment approval

Environment Minister Mary Polak and Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett recently issued a conditional Environmental Assessment Certificate to Narrows Inlet Hydro Holding Corp. for the Narrows Inlet Hydro Project, approximately 50 km north of Sechelt.

The Narrows Inlet Hydro Power (NIHP) project will place its powerhouse at the river narrows, in an area of logging regrowth. Peter Schober, NIHP Principal, notes that the company has been careful to choose a location well away from sand and gravel beds attractive to spawning fish. Photo courtesy Narrows Inlet Hydro Power Corp.

The decision was made after considering a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office, which concluded that the project is not expected to result in any significant adverse effects, based on the 26 conditions and mitigation measures set out in the Environmental Assessment Certificate. The conditions, along with the design aspects specified in the Certified Project Description, are expected to mitigate potential impacts of the project.

The certificate conditions were developed following consultation and input from the public, First Nations communities and government agencies. Each of the conditions is a legally-binding requirement that Narrows Inlet Hydro Holding Corp. must meet to be in compliance with the certificate. In addition, the project is required to be built and operated in accordance with the Certified Project Description.

Key conditions for the project include that Narrows Inlet Hydro Holding Corp. must: conduct a study to determine the levels of methyl mercury in sediment/soils at Ramona Lake and potential effects on the release of methyl mercury into Ramona Lake; only draw down Ramona Lake in accordance with conservative conditions specified in the certificate; develop and implement a water quality and lake level monitoring program at Ramona Lake that includes monitoring water temperature, total solid sediments and nutrients; maintain the in-stream flow rates and diversion rates specified in the certificate during operations; communicate with the public on the status of the project and communicate with the Narrows Inlet Users Group on the timing of construction activities related to the powerhouse, transmission line and other infrastructure in the Lower Ramona Creek area; develop and implement a fish habitat compensation plan for Chickwat Creek; and develop and implement plans for erosion control, drainage management and surface water quality protection during construction to protect water quality in Ramona Creek.

Consistent with its enhanced compliance and enforcement program, the Environmental Assessment Office will co-ordinate compliance management efforts including a rigorous, thorough review that provides for significant opportunities for First Nations, government agencies and the public to provide input on the potential for environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects from a proposed project.

A record of the factors that the ministers considered in making their decision can be found in the Reasons for Ministers’ Decision at: http://tinyurl.com/ny4c9wr

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