Concern over delays in watershed levels amendment

KILLALOE In late December, members of the Round Lake Property Owners Association received Christmas greetings from their president Rob Norris via social media.

The message included letters from both the Township of Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards (KHR) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on a topic of considerable concern to members.

The letters are a response to the October 2017 request to the ministry to lower spring water levels on Round Lake by 50 centimetres.

Water levels on the Bonnechere River are controlled by Renfrew Power Generation (RPG), which owns dams on Round Lake and Golden Lake and a generating station in the town of Renfrew. RPG is wholly owned by the Town of Renfrew.

RPG has to keep the water level on each reach along the river within maximum and minimum ranges set out for each day of the year according to a plan created after a two year public planning process under the authority of the MNRF; the 2004 Bonnechere River Water Management Plan.

It should be noted that the three Round Lake planning process participants disagreed with the higher water levels set in the 2004 plan and have been trying to seek an amendment every since.

The most recent and urgent request to lower the spring water level stems from the devastating flooding of 2017. KHR held two public meetings, in April and August of 2017, to address high water levels.

MPP John Yakabuski gathered stakeholders from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, KHR, North Algona Wilberforce, Bonnechere Valley, Admaston Bromley, Town of Renfrew, Round Lake Property Owners Association, Golden Lake Property Owners Association, Bonnechere River Watershed Project, MNRF and RPG. These parties, led by KHR, agreed to pursue an amendment with RPG and MNRF.

This latest request for an amendment to the Bonnechere River Water Management Plan was submitted to the MNRF on October 13, 2017 by RPG.

The response letter from the MNRF was sent a year later to RPG, dated October 2, 2018 and forwarded to KHR on October 9.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of the January 9, 2019 Valley Gazette or subscribe online.