I am tired of people criticizing run-of-river hydro projects. How many of the people who malign these clean energy projects have actually seen one in operation. Run-of-river projects pack a huge clean energy punch for their size compared to hydroelectric dams and they have far less impact on the environment. In fact, run-of-river projects have one of the smallest environmental impacts of any form of energy production you might choose to name.
Run-of-river projects are also strictly regulated during construction and equally so once they are operational, no matter how big or small they are. Any potential environmental impacts a project may have are also identified well before a project starts and mitigation measures put in place. Typically these mitigation measures exceed the environmental impact being mitigated. And in many cases, past damage done to a local environment by previous industrial uses such as logging or mining is corrected by a modern run-of-river project due to the increased environmental awareness we now have.
Environmental restoration and mitigation even extends beyond the small physical footprint of run-of-river hydro projects. As part of the Ashlu project, for example, a local stream keeper group worked with the project proponents to restore salmon rearing habitat at the mouth of the Squamish River. This habitat had been lost in previous decades and the restoration work created several times more habitat for juvenile salmon than had been there before. In short, it’s time to stop maligning run-of-river projects. They are part of the solution not part of the problem.