The Ayton Dam has a private power generating plant that has a Water Management Plan
in place until 2019. At that time, the MNR, Fisheries and Environment review
the agreement and renew or revoke this deal. Producing clean energy is a benefit to all, but not at the cost of eliminating or compromising a thriving ecosystem.
We have presented our concerns to the MNR and Fisheries to look closely at this before
renewal. This is a poor long term contract/agreement and has no benefit to our river
system. Why do they sign such long term deals with the continued controversy on global
warming? Did they know ten years ago what our current situation would look like?
The current agreement in place allows the power generating plant to drop the water
levels in the dam area up to one meter. For those that know this area of the river,
there is NOT a meter of water available without destroying the ecosystem. In fact,
if you drop the levels 30 centimeters, the results are irreversible.
Just over thirty years ago, the Mill Pond sustained docks, power boats and a deep
well established head of fresh clean well oxygenated water for both plant and other
wildlife. Fast forward to today and we are facing a serious offence to this ecosystem. You
would be fortunate to run a flat bottom boat, kayak or canoe today. With all the knowledge
and education we have now, why is such behaviour allowed when we know better? If we
continue down this path, there will be little to no river running thru our community.
Many people in the town of Ayton suffer poor quality of water from their wells when the
water level is dropped in the Mill Pond. Our wells are stable and provide clean fresh safe
water until the water table is dropped. If your water turns brown or orange when the dam
area is extremely low, we feel this is the cause of this problem. When water levels
are high and the river is flowing, the wells are fine.
Ayton does not have fire hydrants and was built around the river for the safety of the
community. The Water Management Plan agreement renewal should take the safety of our community into
serious consideration as well. If there is no water on the Edmund Street boat launch where
the Fire Department has a natural area for pumping water, our safety is at risk. Let`s not
forget that the majority of Ayton was burned to the ground in 1939.
Studies have proven that fluctuating water levels in the reservoir not only harm the
ecosystem in the reservoir, but do serious damage downstream. Both water levels, varying
temperatures destroy fertile eggs, kill young fish and change the natural spawning habits of the
fish in that zone.
During the first week of July 2017, the reservoir was at the lowest levels in the history
of the mill pond since the pond was drained to build the new County Bridge. Yes, this is public
property and not owned by the mill. Several calls and emails were sent to the MNR,
DFO (Department of Fisheries) Environment Canada, Municipality of West Grey and the Saugeen
Conservation to stop this devastation. Fish were caught in the low areas that eventually
turned into a mud bed with no way out. Fish and other aquatic life were dying!
After a week of telephone calls and follow up, we found that there was little to nothing
that could be done with the existing agreement in place. After explaining and pleading our case
that the level was beyond the allowed limit, we were told to take photos and send them in.
THE DAMAGE IS DONE! The MNR did make a trip down and supported our thoughts on the terrible
state the river system was in. That is as far as this has gone.
An ecosystem is all the living things from plants, animals to microscopic organisms that
share an environment. The Saugeen River's headwaters originates in Dundalk and its outlet at Lake Huron.
There are many tributaries and head streams that make up the river system. It is common
knowledge that dams and hydroelectric stations on any river system do permanent damage. Between
the two, they change the oxygen levels, temperatures, natural areas and deposit large amounts of
silt. With fluctuating water levels our natural trout streams above the dam are at risk. With
no water going over the dam break wall, the fish below the dam are at risk with lower oxygen levels.
The spawning beds for bass, pike and carp are all at risk in the river above the dam. The eggs
are not surviving the low water levels or mud areas that are created. The hatchlings that do
manage to hatch, must head to the deeper water areas where they are an easy target for any predator.
There is simply no place for them to hide and grow until they are ready to venture out.
Proper water management and restricted use for generating power would greatly benefit this area.
It is our responsibility to ensure that any and all ecosystems are managed as well as saved for future
generations. The greed of few to make an income by generating power at the cost of any river system is a brutal practice that is allowed. The governing bodies that manage rivers and other natural areas must be better funded
and educated before stamping any approval. If a natural area cannot sustain human interruption,
than we must prevent it at all cost.
In summary, dams and hydroelectric generating plants are extremely harmful to any ecosystem.
WATER LEVELS ARE
YOU CAN HELP
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Please sign this petition to stop a renewal of the Water Management Plan at the Ayton Dam in 2019.
It is in the best interest of the rivers ecosystem to seize hydro producing operations so the
river can rehabilitate back to a thriving area. If a renewal is to happen, you are supporting a
much lower authorized drop of water in the reservoir and that the gate to the plant is
closed in non producing hours.
You are also supporting that the protection of fish and other wildlife must be priority
and that a proactive plan should be presented to the community before any renewal.
Thank you for your support.