Site C project will create instant lake, but threatens birds, bats and fish

Associated Press

VICTORIA - Documents filed by BC Hydro for the massive Site C hydroelectric project in northeastern B.C. have measures to lessen the dam's impact on wildlife, including special amphibian crossings and slow-moving turbines to allow fish to escape the reservoir.

Massive volumes of environmental documents show there will be an instant recreational lake created, but that will come with impacts on birds, fish, bats and humans.

Hydro, which is seeking government approval to proceed with the project in the Fort St. John area, says the proposed project would flood agricultural land and wipe out wildlife habitat, but it should be permitted to proceed because it's in the best interests of British Columbia.

The environmental documents examine the potential affects of the dam project on 22 diverse areas of concern, including wildlife, heritage and human health as part of the impact the Crown-owned utility submitted to federal and provincial regulatory agencies.

The statement says the dam will create an 83-kilometre long, 9,300-hectare reservoir, that will become a local fishing and boating attraction, but the dam also means the loss of local bull trout, Arctic grayling, birds and butterflies.

Hydro spokeswoman Siobhan (SHH-Vaughn) Jackson says elevated mercury levels in local fish are expected to be one of the impacts of the proposed $7.9 billion dam project, but the mercury won't be high enough to impact human health.

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