Manitoba Conservation and Climate advises that following Crown-Indigenous consultation processes, final licences have been issued to Manitoba Hydro for the Churchill River Diversion, Lake Winnipeg Regulation and Jenpeg Generating Station.
Built in the 1970s, the projects have been operational since their initial development, including the Augmented Flow Program, which has been renewed annually since 1986. The projects have been the subject of multiple reviews and extensive consultation with Indigenous communities. As part of the response to concerns of Indigenous communities, the final licences contain new licensing terms and conditions including the requirement that Manitoba Hydro report annually on its engagement with Indigenous communities on the continued operation of these projects.
Under the new conditions imposed on Manitoba Hydro, it will have to participate in large area planning initiatives led by the province that are under development, involving proactive and collaborative planning with communities to enhance conservation and to identify potential areas for development that could bring additional jobs and opportunities to communities.
The conditions also require Manitoba Hydro to expand and enhance the existing Co-ordinated Aquatic Monitoring Program with respect to shoreline erosion, shoreline wetland issues, the monitoring of terrestrial and riparian components, and the inclusion of Indigenous participation and Indigenous traditional knowledge.
With respect of the Churchill River Diversion, Manitoba Hydro will be required to work with the province to undertake studies that may be employed to improve the environment for fish downstream of the Missi control structure. These may include habitat studies and investigations of flow regime scenarios.
The new conditions are designed to address concerns heard during the consultation process and recommendations from the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission’s review of the Regional Cumulative Effects Assessment Report and the Lake Winnipeg Regulation Report.
Manitoba Conservation and Climate will also review the Environment Act and the Water Power Act for changes that would modernize both pieces of legislation to ensure they incorporate current leading practices. Part of this review will be to provide guidelines on the licence renewal requirement for existing hydroelectric developments. These guidelines will be used when renewing licences for the Churchill River Diversion, Lake Winnipeg Regulation, Jenpeg Generating Station and other historic Manitoba Hydro projects in the coming years.