Mitigation and compensation measures
Right from the design stage, Hydro-Québec incorporates environmental measures that take into account such host community concerns as fish habitat protection, enhancement of prized species (salmon, sturgeon, walleye, trout), and wildlife and vegetation conservation.
Various measures can be implemented to reduce or compensate for the potential impacts of a hydropower project. Here are some examples.
Maintenance of an instream flow to protect fish habitat
An instream flow regime that is adjusted for fish spawning cycles will be maintained downstream of the Rupert dam to protect many lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, walleye, sucker and northern pike spawning grounds. The average instream flow will be 29% of the river’s average annual flow at the release point.
Development of spawning sites to expand breeding and growth areas for certain species of fish
Hydro-Québec expanded a lake sturgeon spawning ground just downstream of Rivière-des-Prairies generating station. This spawning area is the most productive in Québec in terms of live larvae.
Construction of passes to facilitate fish migration
Beauharnois generating station has two eel passes. It is estimated that more than 65,000 migrated through the fish passes at Beauharnois generating station in 2011.
Wetland development to improve wildlife habitat potential
For the Péribonka hydroelectric project, Hydro-Québec developed a wetland compensation plan to preserve waterfowl productivity in the construction area. Among other measures, a wetland was developed in a large borrow pit near the junction of the Manouane and Péribonka rivers. The wetland was seeded with aquatic plants, shrubs were planted, and nest boxes were installed for ducks. The developed wetlands were being frequented by wildlife within two years of their creation, and they should reach their full habitat value within ten years.
Animal monitoring to improve understanding of their movements and behavior
Hydro-Québec began monitoring woodland caribou in 2009 and will continue to do so until 2025. The company wants to assess the effect of construction and operation of the Romaine facilities (generating stations, transmission lines and road) on this species. Fifteen females wearing transmitter collars will be tracked.
Transplantation of special-status plant species
Two ostrich fern communities and five populations of sand heather were observed in the Romaine study area. In 2009, having determined that these communities would be affected by reservoir impoundment, Hydro-Québec transplanted some plants of both species elsewhere in the study area. To improve the chances of successfully transplanting sand heather, the company is working on a seedling-production method with the Québec Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune.
Species protection and discovery of new speciesHydro-Québec endeavors to restore species that are at risk in Québec. The company participates in the work of organizations that are restoring Blanding’s turtles and common musk turtles, minnows and small perch, American shad, American eels, raptors, and the western chorus frog. In addition, it is involved in studying areas that are likely to become part of the network of protected lands in Québec.
In 2005, Hydro-Québec moved a bald eagle nest that was threatened by construction at the Chute-Allard and Rapides-des-Cœurs jobsites. The nest was moved in October, after the breeding season. The nest was attached to a platform, then transported by helicopter to a tree within the breeding pair’s home range. The bald eagle is a species that has been designated as vulnerable in Québec.
Studies conducted by Hydro-Québec for its infrastructure projects are still discovering new species and adding to our knowledge of ecology and habitats, including the ranges of little-known species.
The presence in Québec of the boreal chorus frog was officially confirmed during inventories conducted in 2002 and 2003 for the Eastmain-1-A/Sarcelle/Rupert project. The tiny amphibian was sighted in the high marshes along the Baie de Rupert shoreline. The Eastmain-1-A/Sarcelle/Rupert project will not have any impact on this species, which is likely to be designated vulnerable or threatened in Québec.