Wuskwatim Generation Project - Environmental Assessment and Licensing
The Wuskwatim Generation Project is a 200 megawatt hydroelectric generating station on the Burntwood River at the outlet of Wuskwatim Lake in northern Manitoba. Construction on the project began in 2006 and was completed in late 2012. Ownership of the project is by the Wuskwatim Power Limited Partnership, a partnership between Manitoba Hydro and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN). Under the terms of the project development agreement, Manitoba Hydro manages the operation of the station.
As a major hydroelectric development, Wuskwatim required licencing under Manitoba's The Environment Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The project also required other approvals, including an Authorization under the federal Fisheries Act. In addition, Manitoba required that the project be subject to a hearing by the Clean Environment Commission.
NSC's role in the project:
- Participated in a management team that determined the overall scope and direction of the environmental assessment.
- Worked together with NCN members to conduct baseline aquatic environment and resource use studies in support of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
- Key issues for the aquatic environment included: effects to water quality; changes to water levels on Wuskwatim Lake; mortality of fish moving downstream past the station; mercury mobilization in the food web; and cumulative effects with previous hydroelectric developments.
- Served as lead author on the aquatic and resource use components of the EIS.
- Working in close consultation with Manitoba Hydro and NCN, developed mitigation measures to address effects of the project. Measures included development of plans to address effects of past hydroelectric development at sites identified by NCN Elders.
- Addressed comments on the assessment through the public and regulatory review process.
- Provided expert testimony at the Clean Environment Commission hearings.
- Participated in an intensive process with Manitoba Hydro and representatives of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to identify a suitable approach to quantifying and compensating for effects to fish and fish habitat, as required to obtain an Authorization under the Fisheries Act.
- Developed monitoring plans to address regulatory requirements, including the Aquatic Effects Monitoring Program and Resource Use Monitoring Program.