EcoLogo, the organization primarily responsible for certifying run-of-river hydro projects, has made a commitment to adopt stricter standards for this growing industry. Founded by the Government of Canada in 1988, EcoLogo has faced criticism for being far too lenient with its certification of such projects, most of which are located in fish habitats. EcoLogo is now aiming to establish a broader set of criteria that considers fish, flow rates and other aspects of the habitat. This is significant because many feel that the water level fluctuations associated with these power projects negatively impact aquatic species, especially juvenile fish.
Run-of-river projects produce electricity by diverting water underground to a powerhouse, and eventually back to the river. There are over 50 of these projects currently operating in B.C., more than 30 of these are certified by EcoLogo. Various environmental groups, however, say that the certification process is “meaningless” because power projects can maintain their certification despite instances of non-compliance with set regulations. There have been several instances of salmon and trout fry becoming stranded on river banks due to rapid fluctuations in water levels, oil spills and elevated levels of arsenic. The hydro companies responsible for these issues do not always lose their certification.
Considering the growing number of run-of-river projects waiting to be processed, environmental groups are no doubt looking to EcoLogo to establish stricter requirements in order to better protect indigenous aquatic species.
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Today’s post submitted by Interpreter Alex Zwick