Click at the right to view the video, or you can see it at http://youtu.be/fRvYBwYsACM
It is August 19, 2014, a typical summer day at the Bala north falls. I don’t believe it has rained any significant amount in the past few days, so this is a typical flow of water down the Bala north falls.
As we pan across the six sluices of the Bala north dam, we see that there is water going over some of stop-logs and between some stop-logs. This is an attractive flow of water. This is what draws people to Bala and these visitors drive the area’s economy.
The Bala falls are beautiful, and they are accessible. They can be seen from and are right beside Muskoka Road 169 and there is free parking right across the road. The Bala north falls can be viewed from Margaret Burgess Park, which has picnic tables and park benches. Visitors can climb down the rocks to the water. Nearby there are restaurants, stores and public washrooms. Other falls in Ontario just don’t have all this, the Bala falls are unique.
The water levels and flow requirements in Muskoka are specified in the Muskoka River Water Management Plan, which was approved in 2006. And Table 5.2 of this states that the existing minimum flow over each of the Bala north and south falls is 3 m³/s – this is in addition to the 4 m³/s through the Burgess Creek generating station.
While the Muskoka River Water Management Plan will accept flows as little as 1 m³/s for each of the Bala falls, it does not present any justification for this major reduction, perhaps it was just to pander to and appease the proponent.
The proponent repeatedly claims that throughout the summer, there is currently only 1 m³/s of leakage flow between the stop-logs of each of the Bala dams. This would be just be a trickle, about a bathtub per second. Clearly this isn’t what we’re seeing here.
The proponent further claims that the only reduction we’d see is that the summer flow of 1 m³/s would occur throughout the rest of the year, so long as their proposed generating station could handle the rest of the flow.
As is common in the industry, the proponent would add stop-logs and use a 10-ton hydraulic jack to compress the stop-logs to reduce the flow we’re seeing today to just a trickle of 1 m³/s.
So despite the proponent’s claims that there wouldn’t be any visible reduction in flow, there would actually be two reductions:
- Firstly, all what we’re seeing today would be reduced to a trickle of only 1 m³/s because the proponent keeps telling us the current flow is already only 1 m³/s. Clearly, the reality is that the proponent is making incorrect statements to the public – this is much more than 1 m³/s.
- Secondly, except during spring freshet when their generating station couldn’t handle any more water, the summer trickle of 1 m³/s would be all we’d see throughout the year. People won’t come to Bala to look at dry rocks where the falls used to be.
And did you know, that by international agreement with the United States, 1/3 of the flow – that’s 33% – of the flow of the Niagara River must go over the Niagara Falls as Scenic Flow to draw people to Niagara Falls because it is important to their economy as well. But the Bala proponent would allow only 6% to flow over the Bala falls. The Bala proponent is being too greedy and wants to wring Bala dry.
Help Save the Bala Falls, for more information visit SaveTheBalaFalls.com