Thursday, February 7, 2013

BC's Run of River Hydro Not Being Held Accountable

A recent government audit of environmental infractions by 16 run-of-river hydro projects in Southern BC found that since 2010 at least 749 environmental violations had been committed by these companies, and shockingly none of them have resulted in fines or sanctions. These violations typically result from dewatering of rivers below minimum flow guidelines, or ramping flows up or down too quickly, which can lead to stranding of fish or dewatering of redds. While the government has beefed up monitoring, they have declined to levy fines or penalties against companies whose operations violate environmental standards, shifting the burden of corporate irresponsibility or negligence onto the BC public and ultimately on the the rivers and fish where run of river hydro power has been developed.

The bottom line is, these companies are using a public resource, and as such they should be held to account for their actions. If they are having trouble with infractions, enacting steep fines for infractions would serve as a valuable economic lesson in how not to operate with a public resource. Instead BCs Liberal government has chosen to coddle the industry, handing over BCs river for private power development, apparently with few strings attached. Lets hope the next election cylce in BC can bring an end to the run of river insanity, and ensure that any future development of run of river hydropower is done with regulations in place that penalize irresponsible companies and reward those who understand and respect one of BCs most vital public resources, its rivers.

More information in the Globe and Mail:

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