Cheslatta Carrier Nation has had to endure an almost yearly flooding on their territory since the Kenney Dam and the Skins Lake spillway were built in the 1950s

Cheslatta Carrier Nation has had to endure an almost yearly flooding on their territory since the Kenney Dam and the Skins Lake spillway were built in the 1950s

Impacts of the Kenney Dam

Diversion of water is one of the most pressing issues affecting watershed health.

Since the construction of the Kenney Dam in 1952 and the Skins Lake spillway, Cheslatta Carrier Nation has had to endure an almost yearly flooding on their territory.

The Kenney Dam was built to create the Nechako reservoir, which supplies downstream hydro-electric turbine to power Rio Tinto aluminum smelters. The Skins Lake spillway was constructed to release water from the reservoir into the Upper Nechako River.

But the diversion of water from the Nechako reservoir hasn’t only been causing the frequent flooding. According to the Fraser Basin Council, the diversion of water at Kenney Dam is considered one of the most pressing issues affecting the health of the Nechako watershed.

Theresa Fresco, program coordinator for Fraser Basin Council’s watersheds and water resources program, said a key aspect of overall watershed health is the volume and timing of streamflow.

“Species and ecosystems within the Nechako watershed co-evolved with particular patterns of stream flow and movement of riverbed and riverbank sediments,” she said.

“When these historic patterns are changed, it can have significant and diverse impacts on fish, wildlife, and people.”

She explained that lower flows are more susceptible to warmer temperatures, which can be lethal to fish.

Mike Robertson, senior policy advisor for Cheslatta Carrier Nation, said the negative impacts on the environment “go without saying.”

“That’s what has been happening for 64 years,” said Robertson. “Let’s face it, the Nechako is a severely diminished river and the Upper Nechako is in a very fragile state.”

Cheslatta has had discussions with the province and Rio Tinto for several years to build a water release facility at the Kenney Dam that would address the yearly flooding.

According to Robertson, the proposed project would not only eliminate the frequent flooding and destruction of the Cheslatta system, but it would also be good for the environment.

“Our proposal will allow for a more natural mean-annual-flow regime and will greatly improve the temperature control targets,” explained Robertson.

Fresco agrees that the water release facility proposed by Cheslatta would restore a more natural flow regime to the watershed.

In addition, Robertson said the proposed project would re-establish flows in the five-mile-long Nechako River Canyon that was dewatered by the Kenney Dam in 1952, and allow for the rehabilitation and enhancement of the Cheslatta River and Lake system.

“The Kenney Dam release facility project is an environmentally sound proposal that provides a means to improve the environment of Cheslatta River and the Upper Nechako,” he added.

However, Robertson says the water release facility won’t be able to restore all damage that has been done to the watershed.

“Unfortunately, the release facility project will not improve the issues of flooded timber and shoreline debris on the Nechako reservoir,” he said.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and the Fraser Basin Council are both part of the Nechako watershed roundtable, a collaborative initiative that started in 2015 to protect and improve the health of the Nechako watershed for future generations.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Lake Babine Nation closure sign
Lake Babine Nation issues COVID numbers update

Urges members to follow provincial health orders

NH representative confirmed that people who received their first dose will be scheduled to receive their second dose within the recommended timeframe.(The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette photo)
Vaccine rollout abruptly halted in Lakes District

Northern Health cites Pfizer shipment delays for the vaccine distribution disruption

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read