Cloudworks executives were in Harrison last Wednesday to discuss local run-of-river projects publicly.
An open house was held in Memorial Hall, hosted by the Village of Harrison. Mayor Ken Becotte said hosted it to bring information to the public, while learning about the key issues that could affect the community, namely traffic woes, environmental concerns and noise complaints. Cloudworks brought out a video slideshow on a laptop, and several poster boards illustrating their work.
Run of river is meant to be a greener way of harnessing hydro power. Rather than building large dams, run of river projects capture the energy of waterfalls.
The Observer toured the completed power project at Tipella Creek last October with Cloudworks and members of the Douglas First Nation band. That tour included a fly over of the proposed projects discussed on Wednesday: Statlu Creek, Big Silver Creek, Shovel Creek and Tretheway Creek.
Run-of-river works best in waterfalls with a grade of at least 10 per cent, vice president Graham Horn told the Observer during the tour.
At the top of each project, water is sent through a screen meant to filter out fish and river debris. Only the water that’s needed goes through the screen. The rest carries down its natural path.
That screened water goes down a ‘penstock,’ which is buried or above ground, depending on topography. The penstock carries the water to a powerhouse, where it flows through turbines, which capture the energy. The energy is sent to a switchyard and the water flows into the tailrace — a new waterway that re-connects the diverted water to the natural course of the river.
While the intention is to be green, these projects have met plenty of opposition.
The penstocks do create clearcut swaths through the forest which need replanting. At Tipella, Douglas elders have dictated what trees and shrubs will be planted.
In Harrison, Becotte said the construction of the Silver Creek project could mean more traffic up Highway 9.
“We want to see how we can mitigate these issues, and make it a workable situation,” he said. “They certainly provided good information, they were open and admitted they had to areas to work on.”
While Cloudworks says there will be no visual impacts from the Village, changes will be seen closer to the projects, from the lake itself.
They also say that the water quality of the lake won’t be affected by the construction or operation of the projects.