Impacts

The hydro system in northern Manitoba has significantly impacted the boreal environ- ment and its inhabitants. Some impacts are not monitored or quantified. We have requested some of the information below from government without success.

  • Square kilometers of land permanently flooded in Manitoba by hydro-electric projects: over 2,600 (over 1,000 square miles)1
  • Percentage of the flow of the Churchill River that is blocked and diverted: about 802

  • Kilometers of shoreline experiencing serious erosion and slumping: unknown

  • Kilometers of shoreline littered with wood debris: unknown

  • Square kilometers of shore lands lost to erosion each year: unknown
  •  Number of lake-side burial sites destroyed due to erosion in outlying areas, in contravention of the Criminal Code of Canada: unknown 3

  • Wildlife populations and fish populations have suffered negative impacts to varying extents and for varying periods of time in different areas.4
  • In addition to the above impacts, the 2001 Report of the Interchurch Inquiry into Northern Hydro Development listed the following environmental and social costs, based on evidence and testimony  received:5
    • unnaturally low water levels downstream of the Jenpeg dam
    • disappearance of islands due to erosion
    • reversal of seasonal high and low water levels on the Nelson River system
    • navigational dangers due to debris (deadheads) in the waterways and unnatural and unpredictable ice conditions in winter
    • reduced water quality
    • reduction in availability and abundance of medicinal and ceremonially significant plants
    • reduced opportunity to participate in traditional economy
    • reduced access to traditional foods and medicines
    • deterioration of natural beauty
    • loss of cultural knowledge and natural contexts in which to perpetuate existing knowledge
    • increased sense of dependence
    • ongoing sense of disrespectful treatment by governments and Manitoba Hydro
  • Approximate number of Aboriginal and Metis people living in the vicinity of the northern hydro projects: 25,000

Notes

  1. Source: “State of the Environment,” Manitoba Environment report, 1991, page 108.
  2. Source: “Federal Ecological Monitoring Program (FEMP): Final Report,” Environment Canada / Department of Fisheries and Oceans, April 1992, Vol. 1, pp. 2 – 4, 2 – 5.
  3. While one could compile anecdotal evidence of disturbed graves, an accurate number is impossible to obtain as graves in outlying areas, usually unmarked, may have been washed away without anyone known.
    According to Section 182(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada, improper interference with human remains is an indictable offense.
    While Manitoba Hydro may say it never knowingly harmed grave sites, the nature of its operations has been such that numerous graves have been destroyed whether or not the intention to do so ever existed. Now, Manitoba Hydro takes action to protect graves sites when they are identified.
  4. Source: Anecdotal evidence and “Let Justice Flow: Report of the Interchurch Inquiry into Northern Hydro Development,” Manitoba Aboriginal Rights Coalition, 2001, page 9.
  5. Source: “Let Justice Flow: Report of the Interchurch Inquiry into Northern Hydro Development,” Manitoba Aboriginal Rights Coalition, 2001, page 9-11.
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