Open letter to residents;
If you missed the Forum on Rivers, then you missed some very important information. The comments of one of the speakers, Ken Farquharson, are worth repeating and considering. What he had to say is crucial to the survival of the Similkameen River as a free flowing river.
Mr. Farquharson is a professional engineer who worked on the construction of the Mica Dam and at the same time he was engaged in the Columbia Treaty Dams. He is the co-founder of ORC (Outdoor Recreation Council of BC) and the Sierra Club of BC. He worked with local interests to oppose the Shanker Bend Project which would have flooded the Lower Similkameen Valley as far as Cawston and worked to stop the flooding of the Skagit Valley.
The Similkameen River is a free flowing river, one of three in BC. We need to put a high value on our remaining free flowing rivers. The Similkameen is also an international river, two of its tributaries start in the US and it eventually flows into Washington State and joins the Columbia. Hence, it is part of the Columbia River Basin.
Proposals for dams on the Similkameen have been numerous, starting in 1920 until the present. Development never occurred because essentially the idea (power generation) was not feasible, but now the reason is different. It is all about the water storage, and this is how Fortis Generation hope to make its profit. Forget flood control and power generation, the new focus is downstream benefits!
Fortis has already approached Washington State Department of Ecology for a contract whereby they would conduct a feasibility study on the storage and release of water that would benefit American interests, and the Department of Ecology has allotted Fortis $1.6 million dollars to conduct this study. American agricultural interests stand to gain big time. None of these benefits, however, are for the people of B.C. Fortis will control the river and every time Washington or Oregon needs water, it will be released from the dam on the Similkameen working in conjunction with the Enloe Dam located between Nighthawk and Oroville.
What might you ask is the provincial government doing? Apparently, nothing. It has taken no interest not even on Downstream Benefits! It took no action in the Shanker Bend Affair and appears to be taking the same sort of attitude toward this project.
The question begs to be asked, “How can a Canadian company control a Canadian River, a Crown Resource and negotiate with a foreign country without the provincial government involvement? How can we as citizens allow this to happen?”
There is a need for action.
Friends of the Similkameen-West (FOS-W)