Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: hydroelectric (page 2 of 4)

UNB lecture on dam removal

Jeff Duda, USGS research ecologist, has been studying the effects of dam removal in the Pacific Northwest, such as on the Elwha River. He is in New Brunswick this week to give lectures on the process of dam removal and its ecological impacts, a topic very much front-of-mind as a result of the pending Mactaquac decision. He is also on the Science Advisory Board for the Mactaquac Aquatic Ecosystem Study (MAES) being undertaken by Canadian Rivers Institute. Duda was interviewed on CBC about his planned talks on March 22 and 23. We have a long list of dam removal videos, collected by Larissa Holman for the Energy Transitions team during her summer internship with the project in 2014. Some of these were from the Elwha River, showing the dam removal, with time-series photography, changing sediments in former lakebeds, salmon coming immediately back, and the impact on sandbars at the river’s mouth.

 

Dam houseboat tour paper out

The Mactaquac houseboat flow-cus (floatus?) group team in August 2013: Beckley, Sherren, Keilty, Demerchant, Mittelholtz, Gutierrez Hermelo and Marmura (clockwise from top left).

The Mactaquac houseboat group team in August 2013 (clockwise from top left): Beckley, Sherren, Keilty (researchers), Demerchant (boat pilot), Mittelholtz, Gutierrez Hermelo and Marmura (videographers).

Back in August 2013, we ran three houseboat tours of the Mactaquac headpond, to elicit locals’ perspectives on the landscape and what they would like to see for its future. A paper about that work, Learning (or living) to love the landscapes of hydroelectricity in Canada: Eliciting local perspectives on the Mactaquac Dam via headpond boat tours, is now out in Energy Research and Social Science (free for 50 days at this link). This was a novel research approach that presented undeniable technical challenges, but generated rich stories of the place and their connection to it, some of which were produced into a short documentary, Mactaquac Revisited.

Despite the trauma that accompanied the construction of the dam in the late 1960s, the local population has demonstrably adapted and come to cherish the new landscape: the need to rebuild the dam, with power or not, was almost unanimously expressed in the focus group elements. In the landscape elicitation, however, done alone or in smaller groups, many people expressed a nostalgia for the old river, and even occasionally an openness to seeing it returned to that state. In fact, it was the misinformation and fear we heard on the boats about what the removal option entailed that inspired our storymap, Before the Mactaquac Dam. This paper shows (again) the adaptability of people to drastic landscape change such as caused by hydroelectricity, where some amenity can be found. The implications of this for proponents of hydroelectricity (and other large-scale energy) schemes is more fraught: “You’ll get used to it” is clearly an inadequate response to stakeholder concerns, yet clearly it is sometimes true.

Storymap coverage by NiCHE

Larissa Holman's NiCHE piece on our storymap Before the Mactaquac Dam.

Larissa Holman’s NiCHE piece on our storymap Before the Mactaquac Dam.

I was pleased this week to learn that Dalhousie MREM graduate Larissa Holman, who was a summer intern with the Energy Transitions in Canada project, has a piece about her Mactaquac storymap in an online publication by NiCHE (Network in Canadian History and Environment). The article, Does This Dam Have a Future?, recounts the process of creating the storymap and the role that it was designed to play in the ongoing public consultation process around the New Brunswick dam’s future.

Mactaquac public sessions begin

As CTV put it, “it’s the generation decision of a generation.” This week and next, there are five public sessions being held about the Mactaquac decision, in the region of the headpond. Information stations are manned by NB Power officials and a small army of young people hired to engage with attendees. Some of this information provision is two-way, with butcher’s paper available for people to record their concerns or values. I am still waiting to hear how such data, and that collected through their online survey , will be analyzed, reported upon and considered in the final decision.

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