VICTORIA – Changes that will benefit fish and wildlife habitat, shoreline conditions and recreational access have been approved for BC Hydro’s Columbia hydroelectric operations, Environment Minister Barry Penner announced today.
“The Columbia Water Use Plan brings B.C. another step closer to our goal of leading the world in sustainable environmental management,” said Penner. “The new plan carefully balances recreational, cultural, economic and environmental interests on one of the most important hydroelectric rivers in the province.”
The Columbia Water Use Plan was developed as part of BC Hydro’s water use planning process, with the participation of federal and provincial government agencies, First Nations, local communities and BC Hydro.
“Water is a vital resource that British Columbians can no longer take for granted,” said Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld. “Using water wisely to benefit fish, wildlife and recreational opportunities is just as important as maximizing the energy produced by it.”
Implementation of the plan will involve a considerable amount of work in the area, including improving reservoir access and revegetation along parts of the reservoir shorelines. This work, combined with a number of important monitoring studies, will benefit fish, wildlife, cultural and recreational values. The plan will be reviewed within 13 years.
Highlights of the water use plan include:
· Year-round minimum water release from Revelstoke Dam to improve fish habitat following completion of baseline monitoring.
· Plans for revegetation on reservoir shorelines.
· Improved recreation through new and extended boat ramps.
· Implementation of plans to improve fish and wildlife habitat.
· Monitoring of fish and wildlife populations to assist in making future decisions on the water use plan.
The Columbia River system includes:
· Kinbasket Reservoir, formed by the Mica Dam, located 135 km north of the City of Revelstoke.
· Revelstoke Reservoir, formed by the Revelstoke Dam, located five km north of the City of Revelstoke.
· Arrow Lakes Reservoir, formed by the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, located eight km north of Castlegar.
· Generating stations at both Mica and Revelstoke, which supply nearly 40 per cent of BC Hydro’s power to the provincial grid.
BC Hydro has prepared water use plans for 23 of its hydroelectric systems. To date, the Province has approved 18 water use plans for implementation by BC Hydro.
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