Since December 2008, Nalcor has managed and operated the hydroelectric facilities on the Exploits River on behalf of the provincial government. Nalcor’s focus at Exploits Generation is a commitment to safety, the environment and operational performance of these assets.
Exploits Generation Watershed Area and Water Sources
A watershed is an area where all surface water drains into the same body of water, in this case the Exploits River.
- Total watershed: 10241 km2
- Controlled watershed: 5089 km2
- Over 200 km from Grand Falls to South West End
- Two sources of water used for power operations:
- water that comes from the controlled drainage area above the Millertown Dam
- uncontrolled sources from the tributaries and drainage area below the Millertown Dam
- About 40-50 per cent of the water we use for operations comes from uncontrolled sources.
Public safety is the number one factor in managing the Exploits Generation hydroelectric plant operations and all decisions regarding management of the watershed. Nalcor Energy also plays a part in stewardship responsibility for the fish on the river as the Exploits River is a very robust salmon habitat. Managing water levels effectively to ultimately optimize the energy we can generate, while ensuring safe, environmental practices and care for the communities in which we operate, is crucial. Water levels on Red Indian Lake and Exploits River can rise and fall unexpectedly, and the public are asked to use caution while engaging in recreational activities on the river.
For details regarding the Exploits water level, please consult the the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s regularly-updated water level information here.
Commitment to the Environment
Focusing on how to continually improve environmental performance is a key part of Nalcor Energy’s second corporate goal: the environment. To drive this performance, Nalcor chose the ISO 14001 Certified Environmental Management Systems (EMS), which provides a framework for an organization’s environmental responsibilities and is an integral component of the organization’s business operations.
Nalcor’s EMS governs the environmental activities of its electricity businesses, Hydro and Churchill Falls – both of which are ISO 14001 certified. Nalcor has also committed to use the EMS platform for its other lines of business, and is developing a plan to extend the EMS across the company’s operations, including Exploits Generation. Exploits Generation completed a gap analysis in 2010, which helped identify current and potential environmental performance measurements. This exercise helped lines of business set and meet future targets. From 2011 to 2013, Exploits completed the elements of its gap closure plan, focusing primarily on compliance and prevention of pollution.
Preserving the Atlantic Salmon Run
Exploits Generation staff manage a very successful Atlantic salmon diversion system on the Exploits River. In partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, fish biologists and the Environmental Resource Management Association, an Atlantic salmon enhancement project that started in the early 1960s has seen the natural adult salmon run grow from 1200 strong to an adult incoming run in the range of 40,000 today.
Every year, spring runoff brings with it adult salmon that have migrated downstream from the spawning grounds. Some of these adult salmon will enter the power canal at the Grand Falls hydroelectric plant. Barriers prevent the salmon from entering the power generation turbines once they reach the power canal. Without assistance, they can be delayed in their downstream migration.
Exploits Generation staff began visually monitoring the power canal when water temperature begins to rise in April. Through a cooperative effort which started in 1997, local fishermen and Exploits Generation employees removed salmon from the canal and transported them downstream.
In 2010, Nalcor employees safely relocated over 7000 adult salmon from the Grand Falls hydroelectric power canal and the adult incoming run was in the range of 47,000.