NB Power has engaged a group of internationally respected scientists to provide independent research on the potential environmental impacts of the future options being considered for the Mactaquac Generating Station.
The Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) at the University of the New Brunswick and its partners will evaluate key environmental challenges related to Mactaquac’s future, including river health, fish passage, and flow management.
NB Power is investing $2.3 million in the three-year project, which will be provided as research funding to the CRI, which is a collaborative research network at the University of New Brunswick.
“NB Power must choose a preferred option for the future of Mactaquac during the next three years. We are proud to work with some of the best aquatic research scientists in the world to ensure sound science is at the heart of our choice,” said NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “This is just the start of a public conversation about the future of this generating station. We have some of the answers, but not all of them. We need everyone’s help to make the best decision for all New Brunswickers.”
“The Canadian Rivers Institute is known around the world for advancing river, estuary and watershed sciences and ecological sustainability,” said UNB project director Dr. Allen Curry. “Our goal is to provide objective and transparent science that is accessible and defensible. We are excited that NB Power is sponsoring important research that will contribute greatly to the current body of science on the potential and known impacts of dam construction and removal.”
The NB Power-owned Mactaquac Generating Station will reach the end of its lifespan by 2030. NB Power has identified three possible options for the station, which are rebuilding the station with a new powerhouse and spillway, maintaining the earthen dam and spillway only, or restoring the river to its natural state.
Given the anticipated times required for approvals, design and site work, NB Power needs to choose a preferred option for the station by 2016. That preferred option will then be subject to the appropriate approval processes of the provincial and federal governments and the province’s Energy and Utilities Board.
Between now and 2016, NB Power will complete an evaluation process of the three options that will seek information and advice from experts, First Nations, people who live and work near the facility, and any other stakeholders who might be affected by the decision. The evaluation will consider economic, environmental, and social considerations.