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Letter to the Prime Minister of Quebec: Mitis River – Urgency to intervene with the MFFP and Hydro-Québec

Montreal, September 27, 2019
TRANSMISSION BY EMAIL


Mr. François Legault, Prime Minister of Quebec
Ministry of Executive Council
Honoré-Mercier Building835, boulevard René-Lévesque Est
3rd floor
Quebec (Quebec) G1A 1B4

Subject: Mitis River – Urgency to intervene with the MFFP and Hydro-Québec

Prime Minister,

Hydro-Québec is preparing to build, starting next week, a salmon rearing system at its abandoned Mitis-2 hydroelectric power station at a cost of 5.5 M$. The system would replace the temporary system built in 2018 when this plant broke down and was shut down in 2017. This plant, the smallest in Hydro's fleet, has only 4 MW of power. However, a new development on the file is that Hydro is no longer considering restarting the power station, which would allow a better solution: a free return of salmon into the river.

The system put in place since the breakup is working well: There were 892 salmon catches this summer. This is a system that aims to transport salmon by truck, in a reservoir, approximately 15 kilometers, to the ZEC Mitis located upstream. However, this activity costs Hydro-Québec 400,000 $ annually. Hydro wants to get rid of it and would pay 5.5 M$ for the construction of another, similar system, but would transfer its operating costs to the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP). 

In the current context of a permanent closure of the power station and the opinion of local stakeholders, the best solution would now be to remove the dam and let the salmon go up the river freely for nearly three kilometers, as is the case. was the case in the past.

This solution also has the advantage of integrating well with the Jules A. Brillant Nature Reserve project submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (MELCC) and the Regional Park project being prepared by the stakeholders. regional. See website: parcregionalrivieremitis.org

It is easy to imagine the development potential associated with this prestigious river having regained its natural characteristics. The stakeholders are already at work, including the Brillant family, descendants of Jules A. Brillant who built the two power stations on the river, subsequently nationalized. They also engage in a process of protecting their private territory, more than a kilometer long.

In addition, the construction work which is due to begin shortly threatens the viability of salmon because the hydrological effects resulting from the work will create erosion, siltation and release suspended matter affecting the pools and valuable spawning areas. Such erosion has already been observed, particularly during floods. Hydraulic and property rights are also the subject of disputes which appear to us to be well-founded, and which will lead to additional costs linked to damages.

In summary, the ongoing 5.5 M$ project to replace the 2018 rise system, which works well even if it is described as "temporary", was decided by the previous government while the status of the hydroelectric plant was n was not confirmed. Now that the elimination of the existing dam has been proven, a much more promising project can be carried out with a Regional Park which would become a major attraction with the presence of salmon which freely swim up the river for almost three kilometers. A migratory pass at the Mitis-1 power station would allow salmon to reach the sector operated by the ZEC, to their great satisfaction, without the salmon suffering injuries or risks of mortality inherent to handling as is currently the case. case. And what an excellent initiative to eliminate this 15-kilometer trucking for future decades in a climate emergency!

We therefore ask you to intervene urgently with the ministers concerned to postpone the imminent work and to maintain the operation of the current system until the free movement of salmon is established up to the ZEC Mitis. 

Please accept, Mr Prime Minister, the expression of our distinguished greetings.

Alain Saladzius, P.Eng., FIC
President, Fondation Rivières

A similar missive was sent to the director of the Quebec Environmental Control Center, Nathalie Chouinard, on October 7, 2019

Photo: Atlantic salmon. Matt Hintsa/Flickr

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