Regional District Okanagan Similkameen’s Area “H” Director Brad Hope told the regional district board of directors last week of a new development in Fortis’ Similkameen Dam proposal.
Fortis officials told the board at a previous meeting that the project was not presently economically feasible, based solely on the profits derived from hydro generation.
In order to enhance the economic viability of the proposal Fortis was looking south to Washington and Oregon states to find a stakeholder who would be willing to support the project financially.
It appears that Fortis may potentially have found a partner in the form of the Office of the Columbia River, whose advisory board recently listed a feasibiltiy study regarding the dam in their 2015-2017 compilation of capital projects.
The Fortis B.C. Storage Facility Study has been budgeted by the OCR at 1.2 million dollars, its purpose being to “evaluate a proposed hydropower and water supply, surface storage facility on the Similkameen River. Shared cost and water supply for Washington and Oregon.”
The outcome of this study, if favourable to the OCR, might be something residents of the Similkameen should be concerned about, especially if it concerns water flow rights and the ability to control when certain volumes of water are released from the dam.
One of Fortis’ selling points in their recent presentations to local government has been downstream flow and flood control benefits. If American interests are being courted for a financial contribution to the dam in exchange for control of the floodgates, it would appear at this point that local interests would be given secondary consideration at best.
Without a guarantee of first rights for local control, is the dam a good deal for the residents of the Lower Similkameen?
For residents considering the benefits of having a dam built in one’s backyard,we think it’s an important consideration.