Williston Decision Soon
Mackenzie, B.C.- The District of Mackenzie may soon have a decision on the approved levels of the Williston reservoir.The issue is a request from BC Hydro to be allowed more flexibility in the level of the water in the reservoir and to be able to drop the level to 2140 feet above sea level if needed.
According to a BC Hydro presentation, the “Energy content between 2140 and 2147 is 1160 GWh”, that’s about 1/5 of the power to be generated annually by Site C when it is completed. (see previous story )
The District of Mackenzie has argued dropping the level to anything below 2147 above sea level, would have disastrous financial consequences for the District and local industry impacting effluent discharge, access to log dumps and barging systems.
The levels of the reservoir currently fall under the “Williston Variable Operating Level regulation” which was set in August of 2007. Under that rule, the reservoir is to be kept at a minimum of 2147 feet above sea level. That is the lowest mark the reservoir has been in more than 30 years. Even under that regulation, the reservoir can only be dropped to 2147 after giving six months notice and approval from the Comptroller of Water Rights.
Prince George Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris says he has spoken with the parties involved and believes a decision will be released soon. “What I have proposed is the status quo” says Morris meaning the 2007 Williston regulation would stay in place. “They were in favour of it, I’ve had several meetings with the Minister of Energy and Mines , he’s supportive of it, so now it’s sitting with the Comptroller of water rights. So we’ll see what he says on this. I’m optimistic we can maintain the status quo.”
Morris says the only way he could see Williston needing to be dropped to a level below 2147 would be if there was a severe drought or catastrophic event in the lower mainland. “One thing, we as Government need to keep in mind” says MLA Morris, “Is that Mackenzie was built by government and it was built to be a forestry town, reliant on the forest industry. Williston Lake is a transportation route for logs and other goods that provide that service so we have to bear that in mind, it’s a multi use reservoir.”