The Augmented Flow Program (AFP) has provided Manitoba Hydro permission to operate the Churchill River Diversion outside of its Interim Licence in order to achieve its desired flows through the hydroelectric system since 1986, every single year. Essentially it is an annual deviation permitted by simple letter that allows Manitoba Hydro to exceed water level changes to exceed by 1.5 feet the maximum upper and lower elevations of South Indian Lake and exceed the licensed drawdown of 2 feet in any 12-month period by another 2.5 feet. This permits a 4.5-foot fluctuation of lake elevation—a very destructive operation of questionable necessity.
Every spring northern communities are affected by this additional and unexpected rise in water levels, irregular flows reverse of nature as regular seasonal thaws already pose a danger. The addition of this withheld water causes extreme water levels and an avoidable loss for these communities.”
“You know, water is life; that’s certainly true, but under the manipulation of Manitoba Hydro, and oversight of Manitoba, water has become something twisted and ugly that only brings despair and death to South Indian Lake. Death of an environment, death of a fish population, death of a once thriving economy and death of a healthy community at a huge human and social cost.”
-Leslie Dysart, resident of South Indian Lake
In response to a simple letter request from Manitoba Hydro, the Department of Sustainable Development annually grants the corporation annual permission to deviate from its Churchill River Diversion Interim Licence. The AFP could be reviewed by the government, in consultation with the people most affected, before it is authorized every spring. However it is not. It is a deviation from the Licence too serious to be signed behind closed doors, however that is exactly what happens every single year. The AFP has Never undergone any review, be it scientific, environmental, hydraulic, financial or legal review nor has there ever been any Community Consultation.
The AFP directly impacts the lives of citizens of this province, including increased erosion resulting in a loss of property, lands, economy and vital habitats for aquatic species. AFP has contributed to the loss of the fishing industry, collapse of a Lake Whitefish population which once provided for the sustenance of people in South Indian Lake. The
Manitoba Hydro has requested for a Final Licence for operation of the Churchill River Diversion. Made on May 6, 2009, and currently under review, the request seeks to wrap the AFP into the Final Licence. The Interim Licence andAFP are two drastically different hydraulic operations and should not be treated as one Licence or application. Without consultation with communities, however, this would constitute an abuse of the regulatory process. The Interim Licence is the written contract, the original terms. The terms of AFP are substantively different, andto license AFP must involve those who suffer its consequences, there also must be a comprehensive review of all impacts including a scientific, environmental and legal review.