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Upper Lillooet Hydro Project Terrestrial and Aquatic Environmental Assessment

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Project overview

We provided scientifically defensible studies, assessments, and innovative, environmentally sustainable solutions to support Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. and their prime contractor, CRT-ebc, in the development of two run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities.

  • Client: Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., CRT-ebc
  • Location: Squamish-Lillooet Regional District northwest of Pemberton, BC
  • Duration: 2009 – ongoing

The challenge

In 2009, Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. retained Ecofish to undertake all environmental studies and requirements for the assessment, permitting, construction and commissioning of the Upper Lillooet Hydro Project, now consisting of two hydrelectric facilities, the Upper Lillooet River Hydroelectric Facility (HEF) and the Boulder Creek HEF.  The project is located in the Upper Lilloeet River watershed, an ecologically rich area providing multiple recreational opportunities, as well as existing extractive resource industries.  Project design and development was also set against the backdrop of several challenging natural events such as the Meager Creek landslide in 2012, the Boulder Creek wildfire in 2015, and frequent peak flow events.

The work

Detailed baseline studies, environmental assessments, and monitoring protocols

From 2009 to 2013, we delivered numerous technical reports and memoranda, as well as the Aquatic and Terrestrial/ Wildlife Environmental Assessments. These documents presented the existing conditions, potential effects, mitigation and compensation/offsetting measures, and characterization of residual environmental effects.  We also assessed the potential for cumulative environmental effects based on the residual environmental effects of the project and the potential for these effects to interact cumulatively with residual effects from other past, present, and future projects and activities in the watershed. To address uncertainty of potential Project residual effects, we also developed a long-term operational environmental monitoring program for both facilities. These efforts culminated in the project receiving an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC) in January 2013.

Permitting SUpport, Protection Plans

Since the issuance of the EAC, we have provided ongoing environmental support to secure provincial and federal permits, authorization and approvals for the project. Most notably, we assisted in securing water licences, land tenures, a DFO Authorization, and general wildlife measures exemptions necessary for project development.

construction support

We continue to work closely with Innergex and CRT-ebc as the Qualified Environmental Professional providing environmental support during construction, which involves developing wildlife environmental protection plans, providing input on construction work plans and designs, conducting wildlife and fish surveys and/or salvages, and producing technical reports and solutions for construction constraints and limitations, such as those caused by natural hazards.

For example, in light of construction schedule constraints, we developed a Severity of Ill Effects (SEV) model to enable instream works associated with cofferdam installation at the Upper Lillooet River HEF to occur outside of the reduced risk instream work window, while still maintaining turbidity thresholds that would avoid serious harm to fish. The Boulder Creek wildfire in 2015 caused additional scheduling constraints. Ecofish supported Innergex in attaining an amendment to certain EAC conditions by developing additional mitigation measures to allow the Project to continue to advance during an environmentally sensitive period.

We also directed construction of the aquatic habitat offset project on Alena Creek, which was originally affected by the Meager Creek landslide.

Commissioning

In preparation for Project commissioning, planned for late 2016 / early 2017, we have developed the required study plans and terms of references to address potential ramping and connectivity concerns.

The results

Through the provision of key technical services, quality technical reporting, and ongoing support through all phases of the project, we continue to support the project’s successful development. In the process, we developed a long-standing, ongoing relationship with our client.