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Old 08-06-2009   #1
River Gypsy
Swannanoa, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 255
RiverGypsies Summer Trip Report+Photos part 2

Check out our second trip report from our summer travels.

It was an interesting summer of soul searching as working paddlers, and also a pretty heavy time seeing what hydro development is doing to some of our favorite wild places in BC.

In this report are some thoughts on our current limits, classic waterfalls in BC, and the start of an attempt on a first and last descent in the lakes region.



Leland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2009   #2
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 490
Right down to the design of the power plant housing a turbine, those pictures look exactly like the other "micro" projects I've seen. That's the technology. Smith Creek, ID was my first exposure as a kid to those projects. I think it went in in 1989. Just as the Idaho boating guidebook came out by Grant Amaral.

There must be some heavy subsidies involved because that creek only carries water 3 months a year -- subsidies like as in give them the right away through public land and water for free. Rest of the time, 9 months, all that capital investment just sits there depreciating. Probably different length of season in BC, but I don't know. Hard to see how that could be profitable.

So sad to me that hydro always gets a pass because it's categorized as "green" energy. There may not be an obvious waste by-product from combustion, but the environmental impact is more pronounced, just on a smaller footprint. When you look at it, hydro-pimping starts in our heart when it becomes infected with a need for more, cheaper energy, rather than using less energy - more supply. More supply. Then it spreads out into the arteries because it's the big rivers that get hit first. Clearly, they're the most economical. Longer flows, bigger catch-basins, more turbines. Then the dams spread up stream, into the tiniest of the capillaries, which is where these micro projects all happen.

The micro projects, on some levels, are worse than the big dams that pass water through because the micro projects dewater the entire section of operation, unless the rare peak flow overflows the diversion catch. And because the whole system relies heavily on gradient to push the water through diminishing diameter piping -- 'til it's a firehose at the bottom, you can imagine how it's the steep little creeks that take the brunt of this technology.

I think the only way to create a resistance to this is to increase awareness of these places. So you're doing your part. Maybe you should write a BC guidebook when you're done with the current one. Bring in the boaters, get more people involved, raise public awareness. Photos, too, say a lot. Show the river now, then show it after they dam it. Before and after pictures speak volumes. People need to see what's being lost. Put a little chart below it that shows the power produced and what that gives us versus what we lose. Why would I let my gov't allow a micro project on our public lands when all it does is get us a minute bit of lease income, and power for another subdivision, but we lose a creek for 100 years.

Thanks for the post. Keep 'em coming.

Damn it feels good
Schizzle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2009   #3
River Gypsy
Swannanoa, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 255

Thanks for the comments. Trust me, there is a chapter in the North America guidebook that we are currently finishing up on this area of BC, and there will be plenty of coverage of what's going on up there with hydro development in the book.

It absolutely fucking sucks when creeks are getting dammed faster than we can finish the guidebook. Going back and changing the entry for a paddling destination into a piece on an amazing creek that has been ravaged, dewatered, and destroyed is the hardest part of guidebook writing that I ever could have imagined.

What we need is for paddlers to go up there in large numbers and SOON - like next summer - and show the locals that there is a lot more to be had from those creeks than a tiny bit of power for 2-3 months per year. Not only that, but tourists who come for boating might come back for skiing or mtn biking or other activities. Whoring out your land to industry/developers when you're trying to bill yourself as an outdoor recreation destination is bad marketing, plain and simple.

Leland is offline   Reply With Quote

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