Dams in Metro Vancouver watersheds could generate electricity
Metro Vancouver is poised to dive into hydropower generation in the Capilano and Seymour watersheds.
City of North Vancouver mayor Darrell Mussatto promises that when it does, the region’s two main drinking-water sources will remain publicly managed and off-limits to private interests.
“There’s no plan for us to privatize this water-energy production at all,” Mussatto told the Straight in a phone interview. “This is something that Metro Vancouver is taking on our own initiative.”
Mussatto and other members of the board of the Greater Vancouver Water District will vote Friday (November 30) on a staff recommendation to adopt a new water-use plan for the Capilano and Seymour watersheds. Staff also propose that the plan and water-licence applications for the hydropower projects be submitted to the provincial comptroller of water rights.
“We want to make an application before the provincial government by the end of December,” Mussatto said.
Capilano and Seymour supply 70 percent of the region’s drinking water; the Coquitlam watershed provides the rest.
According to Mussatto, power produced at Capilano and Seymour would be sold to B.C. Hydro. The mayor stressed that the two projects would generate “green electricity” from the spill water from existing dams.
The water-use plan prepared by Metro staff indicates that the planned Capilano power plant has an expected output of 30 to 70 gigawatt hours per year. If the same amount of power was produced using fossil fuels, this would create greenhouse-gas emissions of up to 1,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
The Seymour plant is expected to generate five to 10 gigawatt hours each year. Using fossil fuels to generate this electricity would produce greenhouse-gas emissions of up to 225 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
“Drinking water will not in any way be compromised,” Mussatto said.
Mary Johnston is apprehensive private power companies may dip their toes into Capilano and Seymour in the future. “As soon as you start having other interests who have a hand in how that water gets used, I’m concerned,” Johnston—who owns Water Matters, a water-quality-products company based in Vancouver—told the Straight by phone.