NB Power is looking for advice from New Brunswickers on what to do with the crumbling Mactaquac Generating Station.
The public utility will be holding a public open house at St. Thomas University on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at noon to discuss possible solutions to the dam’s problems. The open house will be held in the foyer of McCain Hall, outside Kinsella Auditorium.
NB Power has already held open houses in French Village and Nackawic. In addition to the open house on campus, NB Power will be holding another open house in the city one day earlier at the Delta. The final open house will take place in Woodstock on Oct. 22.
The open houses will help NB Power decide what measures should be taken in regards to the dam.
NB Power spokeswoman Deborah Nobles said she hopes for a big turnout.
“We hope New Brunswickers, especially young New Brunswickers, will come to our open houses to learn more about this project and share what’s important to them so we can be better prepared to recommend a preferred option for the station in 2016,” said Nobles.
The first option would be to rebuild the powerstation. According to NB Power’s website this would mean,
“Construction of a new powerhouse, switchyard, fish passage facility and spillway and maintaining the existing earthen dam.” This option would allow for the dam to continue operating, and producing power.
The second option would be to retain the headpond. The headpond refers to the large body of water above the dam. According to NB Power this would mean, “[replacing] the two concrete spillways at the station to maintain the headpond and allow some flow control below the earthen dam.”
This would remove all power generation capabilities from the dam, and would mean that according to NB Power, “an alternative source of renewable power would be required to compensate for the loss of generating capacity caused by the removal of the existing powerhouse.”
The final option would be to remove the dam completely, and restore the river to the state prior to the dam. According to NB Power this would mean, “[decommissioning] and [dismantleing] and [removing] the powerhouse, main spillway, diversion sluiceway and associated infrastructure.” This option would also mean that a new source of generating power would be needed.
Nobles said regardless of the decision that is ultimatly made, it will have a huge impact.
“We recognize that there are big implications for people and the environment regardless of the option chosen, which is why we are inviting people to tell us what’s most important to them,” said Nobles. “This is a big decision no matter what we do, and we appreciate the time and effort New Brunswickers are putting into participating in these events.”
Construction of the dam began in the 60s, while the dam started generating power in 1968. At the time of construction the dam was said to be viable for 100 years. However, problems with the concrete has severely shortened the lifespan of the structure. Summer construction has been a constant factor for over a decade.
When the dam was originally built, it flooded the valley above. Parts of many communities were flooded. The town of Nackawic was developed to house displaced residents. Many of the historic houses that once stood in the valley were moved to Kings Landing Historical Settlement, where they remain today.
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