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NEWS: Public comment period on Site C mega-dam ends on April 4

The Site C dam, to be located on the Peace River south of Fort St. John in British Columbia, would be a kilometre long and 60 metres high, creating an 83-kilometre reservoir. It is being opposed by 23 First Nations – including the Athabasca Chipewyan, the Little Red River Cree, the Fort Chipewyan Metis, the Deninu K’e, the Mikisew Cree, the Dene Tha – and numerous others.

The Canadian Press reports, “At least six bands in the northern part of (Alberta) have registered major concerns with B.C. Hydro’s plans to build another dam on the Peace River, saying the utility still hasn’t understood the effects of previous projects on the Athabasca Delta and refuses to study them.” There are already two dams on the Peace River, including the giant Bennett Dam.

Melody Lepine, spokeswoman for the Mikisew Cree, says, “It’s a very, very narrow approach to environmental assessment and we have so much concern. …(And) by not including the (Athabasca) Delta in their assessment they can’t mitigate potential impacts. …That’s the biggest issue for us — just include the delta.”

The article notes, “The Northern River Basins Study from the mid-1990s found nearly half of the wetlands had disappeared by 1989. Animals that depend on them, such as muskrats or ducks, had lost up to 90 per cent of their numbers. Annual flooding patterns, which refresh many lakes and flush streambeds, were severely disrupted. River levels during normal high-water periods were found to be significantly lower post-Bennett. ‘There is no question that the lack of flooding has caused extensive damage to ecosystems throughout the delta area,’ summarized ecologist David Schindler.”

“B.C. Hydro is currently accepting public comments on the environmental assessment of its proposed Site C Dam…” The public comment period for Site C’s environmental impact statement ends on April 4. “The utility expects a regulatory decision by the end of next year. Preparatory work on the site could begin in early 2015.”

This month, the Blue Planet Project intends to release a report on the impact of dams on the UN-recognized right to water. Blue Planet Project water campaigner Meera Karunananthan writes in the introduction, “While it is now undisputedly recognized by the United Nations as a human right, communities defending their right to water continue to face an uphill battle against industries that are destroying watersheds. Prime among these industries is that of mega dams which remain a major threat to freshwater sources and the human right to water.”

For more, please read:
NEWS: BC Hydro submits Site C dam environmental statement, decision expected in 2014
NEWS: First Nations take Site C opposition to the United Nations
UPDATE: Major dams prompt concerns around the world
Maude Barlow’s 9-point critique of large dams