|Kakabeka Falls, Ontario|
The amazing photographs of the dry river bed of the mighty Kaministiquia River were taken just below Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay, Ontario during the summer of 2010. The river, normally showing a fabulous cascade of water over the falls and rapidly-moving water all the way from one tree line to the other in the riverbed further downstream, is dried up.
There was virtually no water flowing over the popular and beautiful falls.
|Kakabeka Falls Dry 2010|
For all intents and purposes, there was virtually no flow in the waterway; the riverbed was dry. If a conduit and turbine inspection was taking place, was it necessary to shut off all water flow to the natural riverbed at the dam spillway above the falls? No.
What are the tangible consequences of drying out a riverbed in the heat of summer? What happens to molluscs, river clams, water bugs, crayfish, minnows, perch, trout, bass, sturgeon, suckers, walleye, pike and other fish trapped in small pools that quickly evaporate and dry up in the heat of the summer? The answer is not a happy one. Drying out in the heat of summer is catastrophic to all life forms in the river. They die. What happens to water plants and microscopic flora and fauna that grow on the rock in the river bed? The answer is the same. If maintained in a dry state too long, all life dries out and dies.
|Kaministiquia River bed- Dry 2010|
The Kaministiquia river is also considered to be a navigable waterway used by explorers, trappers and voyageurs since Canada was first explored, -- and by native populations for many millenia before that. The river is clearly not navigable without water. Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is also far less attractive as a camping or tourist destination with little or no water plunging over the falls.
The stock answer may be “power is needed”. Perhaps it is a good idea to sort fact from fiction. Power generated at Kakabeka Falls, Ontario is not only used in Northwestern Ontario. The electricity grid in Northwestern Ontario is arbitrarily interconnected to both the Manitoba power grid and the Southern Ontario grid. The Ontario grid is additionally connected to the insatiable American electrical grid south of the border.
Why is it necessary to allow the Kaministiquia River to dry out while there is such a huge, interconnected power grid to draw upon?
Does the requirement for electrical power ever justify absolute destruction of an environment simply because it is in “the remote northwest” , a corner of the province, where bureaucrats and executives of Ontario Power Generation think “nobody will notice?”
I think not.
Allowing this river bed to dry out is an unacceptable choice and must not be allowed to continue. I encourage the reader to ask their elected members of parliament to explain why this travesty is somehow deemed “acceptable" and ask them to ensure such occurrences are prevented in the future.