Waneta Expansion Project


The Waneta Expansion Project went through a comprehensive harmonized federal/provincial environmental assessment as part of the regulatory approval process. The project was considered to not have any significant negative environmental effects. The project is expected to produce positive environmental benefits by directing water through the powerhouse instead of spilling it over the Waneta Dam thereby reducing downstream Total Gas Pressure (TGP) levels that can be harmful to fish.

One of the innovative features of this project is an experimental sturgeon exclusion screen. One of the potential environmental effects of the project is the potential for endangered White sturgeon to swim into the facility when it is offline. As a result, the facility has incorporated an experimental deployable sturgeon exclusion screen as part of the project design. The screen will deploy when the plant goes down to minimum output.

To ensure that construction activities at the Waneta Expansion Project are carried out in an environmentally-sound manner consistent with the regulatory approvals, a comprehensive Environmental Management Plan has been implemented and the project is being monitored by an independent environmental monitor.

Environmental Programs as a Result of the Waneta Expansion Project

Waneta Terrestrial Compensation Program (WTCP)

The Waneta Terrestrial Compensation Program (WTCP) provided annual funding to eligible conservation projects located in the Waneta, BC area. The goal of the WTCP was to provide financial support to projects that promoted conservation and restoration of the terrestrial ecosystem through research, physical works, and other “on the ground” or applied projects. The WTCP allocated up to $50,000 annually (for seven years) towards projects within the project area. The program compensated for unavoidable terrestrial impacts of the Waneta Expansion Project.

Between 2012 and 2018, Waneta Expansion Project partners Fortis Inc., Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Trust  distributed a total of $350,000 to 37 projects in the Pend d’Oreille. Butterfly and pollinator inventories, research on threatened bird and reptile species and rare plant studies were some of the activities that took place. The program is now complete.

View a list of all projects supported through the Waneta Terrestrial Compensation Program between 2012 and 2018 here.

For project reports and other information regarding the Waneta Terrestrial Compensation Program, please contact Michael Hounjet, WTCP Program Manager, at michael.hounjet@columbiapower.org.

Fort Shepherd Bar Fish Habitat Enhancement Project

This project involves excavating the Fort Shepherd bar as a means of increasing the amount of time the area is wetted and therefore provides shallow water fish habitat. The project offsets the increased dewatering of shallow water habitat that is the result of incremental load shaping at the Waneta Expansion. The project will also eliminate one of the major fish stranding sites in the Columbia River below Trail.


Waneta White Sturgeon Flow Augmentation and Predation Study (WSFAP)

The White Sturgeon Flow Augmentation Program (WSFAP) was initiated by Teck with the Waneta Dam Upgrades and provides a minimum flow requirement during the sturgeon spawning season to reduce the potential for predation on sturgeon eggs during periods of low flow. Enhancements were made to the WSFAP as part of the Waneta Expansion environmental assessment to come into effect when the plant becomes operational.

A six study of predation on white sturgeon eggs was initiated to help assess whether the WSFAP is effective as a means to reduce the effect of egg predation as a potential contributing factor to white sturgeon recruitment failure. The program aims to establish a relationship between flow and egg predation. An integral part of the program is a continuation of the long running Waneta sturgeon spawn monitoring program.

Waneta Fish Stranding Monitoring Program

This program monitors the incidence of fish and fish egg stranding associated with flow changes at Waneta. The program has been collecting pre-project baseline data. Post project surveys will be conducted after Waneta becomes operational to assess whether there are any impacts to fish and fish egg stranding from the Waneta Expansion Project.

Waneta Rare Plant Relocation Program

This program involves the collection and culture of rare plants that were unavoidably disturbed within the physical footprint of the Waneta Expansion Project. The plants have either been transplanted to a safe location or will be used in project reclamation. Species included in the project are Spanish Clover, Porcupine Grass, Prairie Rocket, Sutherland’s Larkspur, and Small Headed Tarweed.

Waneta Terrestrial Monitoring Program

This program monitors the effects of the Waneta Expansion Project on the following listed species found in the project area: yellow breasted chats, Lewis’s woodpecker, common nighthawks and herptile road kill. The only yellow breasted chat nesting in the Kootenay Region has been found in the area of the transmission line. Nesting locations and success are being monitored. Lewis Woodpeckers historically nested in one of the project temporary use areas. The nest has not been active for a number of years but individuals have been observed in another project area. Monitoring takes place on area roads to assess whether project related traffic may be resulting in an increase in road kill, with an emphasis on herptiles at risk, and if so, whether there are any locations where mitigation measures may be effective.

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