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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Flow of Water

Cottonwood Island Park, Prince George, B.C.
located at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers
(photo taken October 19th)

The World Wildlife Fund-Canada organization recently released a report* on the state of ten Canadian rivers in terms of "environmental flows". It sites three factors that are threatening river flows:
  • climate change
  • growing water demands
  • pursuit of low-carbon energy (i.e. new hydropower projects)
  1. Skeena River, British Columbia - Mines, oil and gas pipelines, coal bed methane fields and hydropower projects all could "significantly affect the Skeena's natural flow and potentially compromise the watershed's incredible biodiversity and ecosystem functions".
  2. Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan - "one of the world's longest free flowing rivers".
  3. Fraser River, British Columbia - The Nechako River is one of its principal tributaries. "The Kemano Diversion moves two-thirds of the Nechako average flow from the Fraser watershed to the west coast for industrial hydropower generation."
  4. Athabasca River, Alberta - "The Peace-Athabasca Delta supports over 30 species of fish and more than a million migratory birds each year."
  5. South Saskatchewan River, Saskatchewan, Alberta - Canada's most threatened river.
  6. Nipigon River, Ontario - ".... flows highly regulated." Efforts are being made to "restore flows to more natural conditions".
  7. Grand River, Ontario - another regulated river with more than 100 dams.
  8. St. Lawrence River, Quebec - natural flow "drastically altered". It is in a "declining state".
  9. Saint John River, New Brunswick, Quebec - longest river in Atlantic Canada.
  10. Ottawa River, Ontario, Quebec - " of the most regulated river systems in Canada."
* Canada's Rivers at Risk: Environmental Flows and Canada's Freshwater Future

More indepth information can be found at WWF-Canada