After a few years of relative slowdown of small hydro development, it seems like the tide is changing again and the pace of development is speeding up.
On the Lilooet River the upper valley has been transformed from beautiful BC wilderness into a major construction zone, and soon, the infamous Keyhole Falls will be sacrificed for the sake of hydropower.
The Forester Dam on the Iskut recently began to operate, delivering power to the Red Chris Mine, a 20 square kilometer open pit copper and gold mine. The company in charge of the Red Chris Mine (Imperial Metal) and the mining process (open pit and tailing pond) is the same as the Mount Polley Mine, in the Cariboo Region of BC. Mount Polley’s tailing pond broke in early August 2014, spilling 4.25 million cubic meters of wastewater into the pristine Quesnelle River, equally contaminating the water of the Fraser River, which drains most of the area located above Vancouver. If the tailing pond of the Red Chris were to break, the entire Stikine/Iskut watershed would be devastated. Wastewater of this mine contains heavy metal, such as mercury and highly poisonous chemicals like Arsenic.
On the Susitna, a dam threatens the Devil’s Canyon. The Susitna is Alaska’s major artery and sustains an incredibly unique and diverse ecosystem. Local human populations rely on fishing and hunting and tourism related to both, all of which would be negatively impacted by the dam, which would be the second highest in the US.
In overall, the situation start to worsen and more projects are expected to be developed this year.
Report and photos: Jules Domine

Upper Keyhole
Upper Keyhole 2