A proposal has been made to replace the existing 300 kW Enerdu run-of-river power station in the Mill on the Mississippi River in the middle of Almonte with a new station producing three times the power. Construction of this new facility will require removal of over one thousand cubic metres of limestone bedrock, including some of the existing falls. It will also replace the existing weir with a much larger dam structure designed to optimise water flow for power generation. Both these changes will affect the character of downtown Almonte. Access to the waterfront at the power station would be restricted.
The new, larger weir may accelerate the die-back of the Appleton Wetlands (which is designated provincially-significant) upstream of Almonte, which has been partially attributed to manipulation of the water levels by increasing the height of the ‘flashboards’ atop the existing weir several years ago. This affects the 9 km long “Reach 18″, upstream to the village of Appleton (see figure), which in effect becomes a reservoir for the Enerdu station. The Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority has requested that the Ministry of Natural Resources perform further study and amend the allowable water limits accordingly.
Continued frequent changes in water flow and level may cause erosion of the river bank and affect the river, river-side, recreational users and property owners along “Reach 18″of the Mississippi as well as those downstream. The Town of Mississippi Mills has requested that the Ministry of the Environment perform a comprehensive Environmental Assessment to supplement the self-assessment made on behalf of Enerdu.
The community opposition to this power station, spearheaded by the Mississippi RiverWatchers, cannot be accused of NIMBY-ism for Almonte already has the 4600 kW run-of-river Gallagher power station just 240m downstream of the Enerdu station. The Gallagher station re-opened in 2010 after a major upgrade.
Finally, the Enerdu proposal does not actually seem to be a true run-of-river power station. There is evidence that the existing station is already being operated in a fashion designed to maximise power output by stopping and starting the power station to take advantage of peak market electricity rates. The selection of the new Obermeyer weir design seems intended to continue this practice with the replacement station. The community also has concerns about noise levels as well as increased flood risk due to the narrowing of the river channel by the new power station located on the river bed.
We, the Carleton-Mississippi Mills Green Party Executive therefore call on:
- The Ministry of Natural Resources to act on the request made in November 2012 by the Mississippi RiverKeepers and the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority to review the allowable water levels on Reach 18 per the Mississippi River Water Management Plan in light of the die-back in the Appleton Wetland;
- The Ministry of the Environment to act on the request made by the Corporation of the Town of Mississippi Mills for a Part II Order Request for a more comprehensive analysis of the project; and
- Enerdu to be more forthcoming and transparent in answering questions from concerned parties about how this power station will be operated and how it will affect the community.