The Nechako River will most likely never again be the natural free-flowing river it once was, the great river it was before Alcan built the Kenney Dam.
But it is within the realm of possibility that it could become a more natural, much healthier river than we have now.
One where the flow pattern and water volume benefits the entire river ecosystem; the sturgeon and other resident fish, the beaver, the otters – the entire spectrum of life forms for which the Nechako River is home.
The flow “regime” of the 1987 and the 1997 agreements simply dictates those flows required (the bare minimum) for spawning Chinook salmon, as well as requiring the unnaturally high summer flows (STMP), by sheer volume, to prevent lethal water temperatures for sockeye salmon migrating up the lower Nechako to the Stuart system and also to the Nautley and Stellako rivers.
A water release facility at the Kenney Dam would partially address some of these issues while at the same time allowing for the restoration of the Murray/Cheslatta system.
After close to 65 years of abuse, the Nechako River and the residents of the Nechako Valley and the Cheslatta Carrier Nation deserve something better.
What’s needed is a water use plan that considers the needs of the river and the people, not just the desires of Rio Tinto, the world’s largest aluminum company.
The first seed for such a plan, may have been sowed when the District of Vanderhoof recently convened a meeting to gauge community enthusiasm for a planning process.
The approach taken for this meeting was not well-received by those present, many of whom have fought for a healthier Nechako river for close to forty years. But this “testing of the waters” could lead to better things to come, a process that is driven by the people, not the corporate giant, one that would result in changes to the management of our Nechako River.
Vanderhoof, B. C.