Keeyask Generation Project - Environmental Assessment and Licensing
The Keeyask Generation Project is a 695MW hydroelectric generating station presently being constructed at Gull Rapids on the lower Nelson River in northern Manitoba. The project is owned by the Keeyask Hydropower Limited Partnership, which is comprised of Manitoba Hydro and the four Keeyask Cree Nations (KCNs): Tataskweyak Cree Nation, War Lake First Nation, Fox Lake Cree Nation and York Factory First Nation. Under the terms of the Partnership agreement, Manitoba Hydro is managing the construction and operation of the station.
As a major hydroelectric development, Keeyask 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 members of the KCNs 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; loss of riverine and rapids habitat; creation of a large reservoir; blocking of fish movements; loss of important Lake Sturgeon habitat; 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.
- Participated in open houses and other information sessions with the KCN communities.
- Worked in close consultation with Manitoba Hydro and the KCNs, developed mitigation measures to address effects of the project (for example through the construction of Lake Sturgeon spawning habitat in the tailrace of the new generating station).
- 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 Fisheries and Oceans Canada to identify a suitable approach to quantify and compensate 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 Plan (AEMP) and Resource Use Monitoring Plan (RUMP).