| Twelve Mile Creek, St. Catharines, Ontario. Photo credit: Allie Kosela|
A new dam proposed for St. Catharines, Ontario, could be one of Lake Ontario’s first significant hydroelectric development projects in many years. The “Shickluna” dam, named for the famed ship-builder, would be a 3.5-5.5 MW dam across the Twelve Mile Creek in the heart of the city. (This is roughly enough power for 3500-5000 homes.)
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper just commented on one of two environmental assessment reports required for the project. After reviewing the lengthy project materials, we flagged two concerns that have yet to be addressed.
The first is the dam’s potential impact on the threatened American eel. The Ministry of Natural Resources confirms that Shickluna may kill, harm, or harass the American eel.
These eel are born in the Sargasso Sea, southwest of Bermuda. They migrate here and remain for most of their lives, before returning to the Sea to spawn and then die. The dam itself will block migration of the eels up and downstream: the degree of the impact will depend on how well the eel and fish ladders work.
The eel have been decimated by hydro-electric developments on the Great Lakes, pollution, and loss of habitat. They are a critical part of a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem, and have historic and cultural significance for many communities. Because of existing pressures on the threatened eel, it is crucial that the Shickluna project not further undermine their future.
Twelve Mile Creek is home to a variety of other fish species. As the only cold water fishery in the Niagara region, the creek serves as habitat for a number of cold water species, including white sucker, alewife, carp, emerald shiner, brown bullhead, channel catfish, white perch, rock bass, pumpkinseed, small and largemouth bass, log perch, and the round goby.
In addition to the American eel, twenty other species of fish will also require safe passage upstream past the Shickluna dam, including the brook trout, hornyhead chub, johnny darter, northern hog sucker, rainbow darter, and stonecat. Waterkeeper is recommending a project design that protects all of these species.
Our second concern is the Shickluna dam’s potential impact on navigation. Twelve Mile Creek is a fast-moving waterway. The dam-site is coveted by the paddling community for its potential as a world-class whitewater course. The Shickluna dam will displace existing and potential paddling activities on the Creek.
Waterkeeper raised both of these concerns in our submission, which you can read online here. We will continue to raise these concerns through the federal environmental assessment process, which is still in its very early stages.
For more information about the federal process, click here. For more information about the Shickluna project, click here.
This week on Living at the Barricades:
Environmental prosecutions are making headlines again as Syncrude finds itself in court in Alberta. The company has contaminated ponds at its tar sands site in Alberta and is facing charges from both the provincial and federal governments after 1600 migratory birds died there in 2008. We talk about public and private environmental prosecutions today. Our guests are Adam Driedzic of the Alberta Environmental Law Centre and Fraser Riverkeeper Doug Chapman.
Music in this Show
I Fought the Law – The Clash
Fulsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
Jailhouse Rock – Elvis
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