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    Taking a holistic look at Canadian hydropower

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    Hydropower is a controversial renewable energy source in Canada. 

    Supplying our country with more than 60 per cent of our electricity and emitting less greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil, it’s seen by many as our country’s renewable energy source of the future. In British Columbia, for example, the Bridge River Power Project supplies up to eight per cent of the province’s energy — more than enough for the city of Surrey...

    Supplying our country with more than 60 per cent of our electricity and emitting less greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil, it’s seen by many as our country’s renewable energy source of the future. In British Columbia, for example, the Bridge River Power Project supplies up to eight per cent of the province’s energy — more than enough for the city of Surrey.

    But large-scale hydropower projects can also disrupt habitats, fragment ecosystems, and devastate communities if not planned correctly.

    The Bridge River Power Project flooded the Bridge River Valley upon its completion in 1959. The St’át’imc people, who have lived along Bridge River for thousands of years, used to call the valley the “land of plenty” due to the abundance of wildlife it was home to. Most of that was washed away. Communities were displaced. Consequences of the project, such as declining salmon populations in Bridge River, persist to this day.

    Simulating free-flowing rivers

    Some dams try to simulate the natural free-flow of a barrier-free river by a mechanism known as “environmental flows.”

    Environmental flows are controlled releases of water from dams during periods of high power demand, heavy rain or snowmelt in the reservoir, or dry sediment downstream. However, they also come with risks. Dams that release too much water, too quickly, or during the wrong times of the year can destroy habitats, “flushing out” smaller fish.

    However, many experts say that hydropower can still be a positive path forward, but decisions about where it’s most effective need to be better informed and take into account the whole ecosystem — and the communities that depend on it.

    Source:

    Sources:
    https://canadahydro.ca/facts/
    https://www.bchydro.com/community/recreation_areas/bridge_river.html
    https://theconversation.com/dams-can-mimic-the-free-flow-of-rivers-but-risks-must-be-managed-110540
    https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/its-very-core-everything-significance-canadas-wild-rivers

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