SpruceRoots Magazine - September, 1999

 

MOUNTAINS OF MISSING INFORMATION

by Erica Thompson

A friend in public relations once told me when pitching a sale, information is at a premium, answer only what has been asked, he said, and on no account offer up anything for free. On the more pertinent issues - it comes down to tight lips and timing.

The future of Queen Charlotte Power Corporation's bid for a water license at Takakia Lake is still in the dark and two months after the Skidegate and Sandspit public hearings little light has been shed on the mountain of information absent from the discussion.

Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights Prad Khare's interim report (June 29) illustrates the picture of missing pieces with over 20 requests for information by Islanders, their legal counsels and the deputy comptroller following the hearing over QCPC's plans to drill a tunnel linking Takakia Lake to Moresby Lake. Information requests range from how deep the lake is to the rare lichens and plant species found along the ridge tops. Tourism, recreation, BC Hydro's PowerSmart programs and a hydrology report from the independent power producer are needed to help Mr. Khare make a decision on the future of the Takakia project.

Deputy Comptroller Khare has the power of a justice and through the Water Act he can supoena witnesses and information he deems essential to the decision making process. The hydrological study is one of four Deputy Controller Khare requested from QCPC. The power company considers the studies their responsibility to produce and pay for - though the figure on the price tag is confidential, QCPC president Dr. Alexander Eunall says. Some of the studies are underway, though others, he adds, will not happen until other parties have presented the necessary prerequisite information.

Rolf Bettner, of Northwest Habitat Foundation in Queen Charlotte, has been waiting since July 15 for his copy of the hydrology report and he can expect to keep waiting. QCPC will not be sending out information piecemeal, Dr. Eunall says, despite report schedules issued by the deputy comptroller. Islanders and Mr. Khare will get a glimpse at QCPC's information only after all studies are completed, says Dr. Eunall.

In an information coldsnap, decisions are slow coming and momentum a challenge. Mr. Khare set August 31 as the deadline for all submissions. How he will be able to make a decision on the water license if the requested information does not surface and the public's questions are not answered remains to be seen.

Information requests during Hearing

1. Jim Ko, BC Hydro, asked to provide most recent forecast of load requirements to 2009.
2. Jim Ko, BC Hydro, asked to report on PowerSmart program, particularly with respect to its application to Queen Charlotte Islands.
3. Denise Mullen-Dalmer, Ministry of Employment and Investment (MEI), asked to provide copy of request to QCPC to address any deficiencies in Environmental and Socio-economic Screening (ESS) report identified by review agencies. (This information may be provided by BC Hydro)
4. Denise Mullen-Dalmer, MEI, asked to provide copy of any input received from BC Parks, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP), particularly relative to the proposed ecological reserve status.
5. Elizabeth Zweck, Prince Rupert Inter-Agency Management Committee, asked to provide list of membership of Inter-Agency Management Committee.
6. Elizabeth Zweck, asked to provide copy of February 1999 letter from QCPC in response to deficiency in study of conservation impacts.
7. Elizabeth Zweck asked to provide copy of briefing from Regional Protected Area Team (RPAT) to IAMC on Takakia Lake.
8. Elizabeth Zweck asked to clarify the understanding that IAMC had in respect of the proposed operation of the Takakia Lake project, with respect to the level of proposed drawdown, when endorsing the project.
9. Dr. Eunall, QCPC, asked to provide power modeling studies used to estimate water requirements.
10. QCPC may direct questions in writing to Dr. Schofield, through Andrea Finch, legal counsel for Northwest Habitat Foundation.
11. Mr. Eunall, QCPC, will respond to questions on hydrology by preparing a report detailing how the level of Takakia Lake would change from month to month over three annual scenarios, being a 1 in 7 year flood, a 1 in 7 year drought, and a mean precipitation year, and in regard to three levels of power requirements, for an addition 4, 5 and 6 GWh/yr. The report will include a bathymetric profile for Takakia Lake, information on rate of refill with respect to time/date and the basis for any conclusions.
12. Prad Khare, Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights, asked to investigate the possibility of the various lake level profiles being demonstrated on computerized images of Takakia Lake.
13. Dr. Eunall, QCPC, asked to provide any other environmental studies beyond the information on file with the Comptroller of Water Rights.
14. Rolf Bettner, Northwest Habitat Foundation, may add to submission once further hydrological report is provided by Dr. Eunall (item 11).
15. Adam Lewis, Triton Environmental Consultants Ltd., asked to provide sketches of areas studied during field investigation.
16. Dr. Eunall, QCPC, to clarify responsibility for the information (e.g. sections on wildlife/recreation) included in the October 14, 1997 Addendum #1 to the ESS report, as well as the basis for the conclusions.
17. Prad Khare, Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights, asked to make additional copies of information binder (Exhibit 1) available in public library and a copy directly to Rolf Bettner.
 
Deputy Comptroller's requests arising from Hearing
1. During the hearing it was reported that the Haida have visited Takakia Lake from time to time for the purposes of acquiring a variety of plants for medicinal purposes. I would request that the Council of the Haida Nation provide additional information on the regularity of these visits and the species that are taken.
2. In response to information provided from my request No. 1, I would then ask that QCPC study the availability of these species elsewhere on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
 
3. I would ask Queen Charlotte Power Corporation to further study the potential impacts on plant life within the Takakia Lake basin, particularly in respect of affects on lichens or other rare and endemic species.
 
4. I would ask QCPC to provide an analysis of the contribution of tourism and recreation activities to the local economy of the Queen Charlotte Islands, its value relative to other components of the local economy, the significance of Takakia Lake to the tourism and recreation value, and the likely affect of the proposed project on that value.
 
SpruceRoots Magazine - September, 1999