The Innavik Hydroelectric Project is being developed in collaboration with Hydro-Québec and aims at reducing the community’s dependency on thermal energy generation by replacing it with clean, hydroelectric energy, thus, meeting the village’s basic needs, as well as partially satisfying the demand for space and water heating. During the course of the study, several development options were considered before the site at the Katattukallak rapids was retained. This site was selected because it is the only site along the Inukjuak River that satisfies the energy demand of the population in the short and medium term. By implementing this project, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be reduced by an average of 15,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, allowing the community of Inukjuak to demonstrate to other communities in Nunavik and Nunavut that it is possible to fight climate change.
The integrated environmental and technical teams have mapped out the project in such as way so as to minimize any negative impacts while maximizing its benefits. The project has been designed to respect the characteristics of the existing environment as well as designed to preserve the existing fish populations and water quality. Concrete examples include:
The plant will be operated as a run-of-the-river installation and will not modify the river’s flow since only the portion necessary for power generation (a small amount) will be diverted through the water intake to the powerhouse. This diverted flow will be returned to the river through a tailrace channel that will be discharged at the foot of the main structure. Therefore, actual water levels downstream of the project site will remain unchanged during operation. Furthermore, water quality will not be altered as a result of the water’s passage through the turbines located in the powerhouse. Nevertheless, sampling of the water will be performed on a regular basis so as to ensure quality control.
The operating level of the upstream headpond has been selected so as to not influence the natural levels present in Lake Qattaakuluup Tasinga. Between the lake and the main project site, water levels will be raised so that the community’s energy requirements are still satisfied in 20 years time for the highest projected demand. The increase in water levels will end at the lake’s outlet where spawning habitats will be created in order to ensure that habitat availability for all stages of the life cycles of fish will remain as abundant as pre-construction conditions. As a precaution, other spawning habitats will be added downstream of the main project site so that fish that spawn during the fall season are not affected by the construction.
Particular care was taken to harmonize the project with the natural landscape and the Inuit culture. In the near future, a contest will be organised in which artists from Nunavik will be involved in the architectural design of certain components.
Local community members will be favored over others for the construction of structures as well as other related work (lodging, community relations, etc.).
A significant proportion of profits coming from sale of hydroelectric energy will be reinvested in local project development for the Inukjuak community.
An ATV bridge, required for the operation the Innavik Hydroelectric Project, will allow for the community’s access to the south shore.
Work performed by the Avataq Cultural Institute, in collaboration with the Pituvik Landholding Corporation, will ensure that the development of the project respects the integrity of archaeological or heritage sites.
A ramp built upstream of the works will facilitate boat launching.
The main conclusions of the environmental impact statement are:
The project will not significantly impact vegetation, birds or mammals;
The revenues generated from the production of hydroelectric energy will have significant positive impacts on the socio-economic development of the community;
Precautions taken during the design phase have allowed for the protection cultural heritage sites;
Fish and fish habitat will be protected by the placement of a protection system at the entrance to the power intake and the creation of spawning habitats;
Water quality will remain the same as in pre-construction conditions and the bioaccumulation of mercury in fish is not expected to occur;
An architectural approach, based on the work of Inuit artists, will ensure the project’s visual integration into the landscape