The proposed project would make all this too dangerous to continue …

Aug 182015
 

Summary
It would be unpredented to build a hydro-electric generating station this close to public and private docks, in-water recreational areas, and residences. Yet since their environmental approval, the proponent has changed their plans to be even more dangerous. The proponent has not provided any information on how they would mitigate this extreme danger.

Detail
Visiting 32 similarly-sized hydro-electric generating stations in Southern Ontario shows that none have in-water recreation so close to their intakes or tailraces. Not only has the proponent not told the public how they could operate this proposed station safely, since their environmental approval they have made several design changes that would make their station even more dangerous. Closely looking at the shorelines, intake, tailrace, and neighbours upstream and downstream for these 29 hydro-electric generating stations in Ontario shows that for ALL:

  • There are NO public or private docks upstream or downstream.
  • There are NO in-water recreational activities, such as swimming, boating, or Scuba diving upsteam or downstream.

Some believe the proposed generating station is justified as there a generating station operated at this site more than two generations ago. But the proposed generating station would have over 11 TIMES the flow, more than 14 times the output, and have more than 25 TIMES the footprint. Consider this:

  • A car idling past you at 5 km/h in a parking lot is quite safe, but a car driving 11 times faster, 55 km/h, is lethal.
  • A breeze of 10 to 15 km/h is harmless, but 11 times that would be a deadly hurricane.
  • The 70 l/m water supply to your house is great for watering the lawn, but 11 times this is used for riot control water cannons.

The stations are listed below, all are in southern Ontario. Click on the links to see the station, the view upstream, and the view downstream. You can see a map of the location of these stations here, or if you have Google Earth installed, you can pan and zoom to each by clicking here.

  1. South River generating station, upstream and downstream.
  2. High Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  3. Wilson’s Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  4. Bracebridge Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  5. Matthias generating station, upstream and downstream.
  6. Trethewey Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  7. Hanna Chute generating station, upstream and downstream.
  8. Muskoka South Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  9. Wasdell Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  10. Bancroft generating station, upstream and downstream.
  11. Minden generating station, upstream and downstream.
  12. Elliot Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  13. Fenelon Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  14. Auburn generating station, upstream and downstream.
  15. London Street generating station, upstream and downstream.
  16. Marmora generating station, upstream and downstream.
  17. Healey Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  18. Campbellford generating station, upstream and downstream.
  19. Seymour generating station, upstream and downstream.
  20. Ranney Falls generating station, upstream and downstream.
  21. Hagues Reach generating station, upstream and downstream.
  22. Meyersburg generating station, upstream and downstream.
  23. Sills Island generating station, upstream and downstream.
  24. Frankford generating station, upstream and downstream.
  25. Batawa generating station, upstream and downstream.
  26. Glen Miller generating station, upstream and downstream.
  27. Sidney generating station, upstream and downstream.
  28. Fletcher’s Horse World generating station, upstream and downstream.
  29. Heywood generating station, upstream and downstream.
  30. Big Chute generating station, upstream and downstream.
  31. Ragged Rapids generating station, upstream and downstream.
  32. Big Eddy generating station, upstream and downstream.

The photograph below (click for a larger view) shows the Bala north falls, as viewed eastward from the Town Docks on the Moon River. The proposed generating station would be just past the Bala north dam. So not only would the proposed generating station be directly adjacent to the very popular in-water recreational area at the usually-serene Bala north falls, but also within 50 m of these private docks, and within 100 m of the only public dock on the Moon River. The proposed generating station, would fill the entire Crown land site with concrete, would tower five stories above the Moon River, yet be directly adjacent to the Township’s land directly to the south, which has been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for its views. The proponent’s plans do not fit with this site.

The photograph below (click for a larger view) shows the area upstream of the intake for the proposed generating station, which would have a 30′-wide x 30′-deep intake drawing tons of water per second. Anyone near it would be held underwater until they drowned.

  • On the right, just upstream of the safety boom is both the portage where children learning how to canoe from local summer camps get in and out of their canoes. Just upstream of that are the docks for Purk’s Place which rents canoes and kayaks, certainly falling out of a canoe or kayak there would be likely, as people (often less experienced) would be getting in to and out of their canoes and kayaks.
  • Upstream of that past the CP Rail bridge abutment is Diver’s Point, from which Scuba diving is very popular. People come from more than a hundred miles away to Scuba dive here, as the depth, clarity of water, and accessibility are perfect, and unique for all of Muskoka.
  • To the left and just usptream of the CP Rail bridge you can see people on the shore, getting ready to go swimming – exactly where the proponent’s flow simulation shows their proposed generating station would create unusually high surface water velocities drawing people towards their proposed generating station’s deadly intake. Just beyond there to the left are the Town Docks on Bala Bay. The wind, or motors stalling would result in boats being drawn towards this safety boom, an extremely treacherous place to be. Also, for more than 100 years, the annual Bala Regatta is held at these docks, yet another fun activity that would become life-and-death dangerous due to the proposed generating station’s intake.


The annotated drawing below (click for a larger view) shows the proximity of the treacherously fast and turbulent water entering and exiting the proposed generating station relative to the in-water recreational areas.

Conclusion
It would be unprecedented and irresponsibly dangerous to locate a hydro-electric generating station so close to so many in-water recreational areas in Bala.

Fencing and signage would not be effective as; private dock owners have a right to safety access the water, people would still access the falls by boat, the portage and the boat rental docks are just upstream of the proposed intake which would become extremely dangerous, and the wind and stalled motors would result in boats from the upstream public docks being drawn to the proposed station’s intake.

The proposed station would operate at its maximum capacity an average of 21 days every summer, drawing tons of water per second through its intake, which would hold anyone nearby under water until they drowned.

The proponent has not only stated they have no plans to fence off the area in an attempt to keep people safe, but they received environmental approval they have increased the minimum flow, increased the cycling flow, and increased the size of their proposed generating station, all of which add to the dangers.

That is, the proponent has not told the public how they would operate their proposed generating station safely.

  2 Responses to “Generating stations are NEVER built this close to in-water recreation”

  1. Corruption has become endemic in Canadian politics. On many levels this project is to be stopped & the politicians & Ontario Hydro investigated by the OPP. Ontarians are paying too much for hydro electric power as it is while too much money is paid to people bereft of moral conscience.

  2. Mitchell, GREAT WORK! This is the most comprehensive Reasoning I have ever read on a most Compelling issue…the Bala Falls must be saved for future generations to enjoy..it’s beauty and grace cannot be blown away and stopped up forever more. When the Energy Pirates read this (likely already have), they will realize the voice of thousands is building and gaining strength. These 29 UGLY and UNSAFE Hydro projects are not for anyone to recreate in, of course-they’re Hydro Plants. Why would anyone recreate near a Hydro Plant? Kathleen Wynne, please stop this nonsense in Bala. It makes no sense!

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