Working Hard to Safeguard Paddling Assets for All Canadians

All about Whitewater

All about Whitewater
A Blog about River Preservation and the need to protect our free flowing whitewater resources

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Task for to discuss Gull River Water Levels and other Issues

K9H 7L7
Telephone (705) 742-3881
Toll-Free 1-800-477-2919

Dave Ness
Water Control Engineer
Trent-Severn Waterway
Telephone: 705 750-4902

Dear Sirs:

Regarding: The Gull River

Last fall and thru the early part of the winter the Gull was humping, that is not typical.

Now there is no water and lakes are at risk of being very low to start the season, this does not bode well for the summer and fall water levels throughout the system.

Likely, this coming season could potentially be one of the worst with regard to water levels.

Whitewater Ontario wants to communicate more with the Trent Severn Waterway and Parks Canada... and their overeers PWGSC the same, very same group being called to task over the Kipawa with their Environmental Assessment which concluded "pas de problem". (See Federal Court Judicial Review: T 452-06)

Historically this organization hasn’t been very open to any kind of input, usual responses tend to be things like; “you wouldn’t even have those lakes if it weren’t for us” or “flood control and safe navigation must be maintained throughout the Trent Severn System”.

Meanwhile unsafe navigation, flooding, dewatering, and environmental damage are common here. The priority has always been Trent water levels.

Our first goal will be getting a seat at the table - a spot at the water agreement table.

This is because a new water agreement change may impact our whitewater flow. We have to follow this as far as it takes us.

We are beginning the process of recruiting a few people who are keen to work on these types of issues. Of course a legal type would be a god send but regardless a few more bodies to attend meetings, define issues that we should pursue and meet with landowners and interested parties would spread the work around a bit.

In the end, however, the discussiosn around water level are ultimately for the greater good and we choose to be part of that representation along with whoever else is concerned.

Paddlers have spent a few hours over a couple evenings moving rocks around to focus the flow and clean up the eddies at the bottom of the Gull River. What we have done is essentially clean up the beaches and eddies at the bottom of the river and pile the rocks out from the existing rock walls to help focus the current into the bottom wave and clean up the eddy lines. These smaller rock walls instantly made a difference at lower lake levels. To the Paddler’s eye the wave at the bottom changed instantly. The first retaining wall we built was on the river left side(surfer’s right) where most people take out. We cleaned up the beach of 50-150lbs rocks and placed them on an angle just off of the rock wall. This fixed the eddy making it calmer, and made a defined eddyline and a small shoulder on the wave.

The next night we moved well over 100 rocks on the river right shoreline(surfers left) and cleaned up that eddy. We built a much longer retaining wall out on an angle to the wave which at the beginning of the evening was flat…not surfable and by the end of the evening the wave became a small surfable wave/hole with a foam pile accessible from both sides of the river! Of course all of these changes are more than likely temporary and only time will tell whether they actually work and make the river feature at the bottom better at more waterlevels. But this is some food for thought at what volunteers with a couple hours/ evening could accomplish. Being conscientious about taking rocks from above the water line that were strewn about and not stealing from the big existing walls, or degrading any integral river features. We will try and get over to the river and take some pics of our work as well as the low-low river.

Lets state clearly here that first and foremost we are conservationists, we love habitat that the Gull river provides and enjoy fishing for rainbows(catch & release) as well as running and playing on the water.

After seeing what the Dam operators have done to the Gull over the past few years and how the same beaurocracy higher up have shut the doors on future river mods on the Gull...We are perplexed. More facts are required: What is the methodology?

We need to understand out measured inflows, outflows, precipitation, monitored waterlevels, and control the flow based on low/high water thresholds are used. That way, if it is decided to dump water in the middle of winter, one can go to a public website and see why.

First of all, the river is man made and has been modified over the course of the river's life as we know it. The pictures from before it was a man-made and blasted reveal it was barely a creek...a trickle hardly suitable for fish habitat etc...

To tell the Gull River Association that there is no possible way for them to get a machine down to the water to move and replace some river features like eddies and rock walls(that are man-made in the first place) is lame... but then to drop the river level by 5ft in less than 30 minutes leaving rocks with algae and gravel bars exposed to the sunlight and air in the middle of spawning season to feed the reservoirs above for Trent Severn river levels later on in the summer and Hydro is completely beyond reason!

At least this organization could be consistent in their priorities. It's not cool to move some rocks and modify river features with a heavy machine(which has been steam cleaned before-hand) but it's ok to leave all that 'protected' fish habitat exposed to the air for hydro and tourists in their power-boats down in another county. That is the message we are getting. Consider that the Rainbows are stocked in the lakes above and below anyway...not even native...or have already been wiped out once.

There is building frustration with this whole situation and mentality on our "home" river. ‘Cash is King’ because the environment and waterways are protected up to a certain price-tag.

Something to think about…we all use the river, why can’t we help maintain and improve it by moving a few rocks that are serving no real purpose or cleaning up the eddies from rocks that have moved in over the spring flood?

This kind of seems like our responsibility, and if we go about it in a responsible and thoughtful way, the fish could even benefit from our work...of course we will also benefit from a better river with features that are more user-friendly and consistent.

Whitewater Ontario

Peter Karwacki

Who is Whitewater Ontario:

Stemming from the above

A task force is being assembled to meet with officials of the Trent Severn Waterway and Parks Canada, and Public Works Goods and Services Canada - maybe Steven Harper will attend (joke here).

right now we need to assemble some factual information, and pictures would be worth a thousand words.

If any of you have photographs of the Gull at LOWWWWWW water that would be highly instructive especially if dates are available.

Any references to historical guages, fish spawning, cancelled events due to low flows, also, any correspondence with TSW or its officials, any hard communications relevant to the following issues would be appreciated:

Navigation of Water Control Structures
Water flows
Extremely high or low levels
River modification or reparations and bank stabilization
Photographs of usage.
Historical documents: relevant to the 25th anniverary of the Minden Wildwater Preserve.

Please sent to

Peter Karwacki,
President, Whitewater Ontario
1620 Trenholm Lane
Ottawa, Ontario,K4A 4B6

No comments:

Canadian Rivers

Canadian Rivers
I speak for river users too!

The Queen is not amused!

The Queen is not amused!

The Damned Dam - 2005 -

The Damned Dam - 2005 -
22nd Annual Kipaw Rally has modest turnout. - 23rd does better

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

The Ashlu river: it could happen to you

Whitewater Ontario

Whitewater Ontario
Working Hard to Protect Canada's Paddling Resources

Whitewater Ontario - Mission Statement

It is Whitewater Ontario’s mission to support the whitewater paddling community through the promotion, development and growth of the sport in its various disciplines. We accomplish this through the development of events, resources, clubs, and programs for personal and athletic development, regardless of skill level or focus, to ensure a high standard of safety and competency; We advocate safe and environmentally responsible access and use of Ontario’s rivers. Whitewater Ontario is the sport governing body in the province, and represents provincial interests within the national body Whitewater Canada and the Canadian Canoe Association

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican

Kipawa, Tabaret, and Opemican
If Hydro Quebec is not actively pursuing Tabaret what is that bite out of Opemican for?

Kipawa Dam: After

Kipawa Dam: After
Laniel Dam at 2006 Rally

Where is the Kipawa

Where is the Kipawa
Kipawa flows into lake Temiskamingue, running from Kipawa Lake, under hwy 101 in Quebec

Kipawa Dam

Kipawa Dam
laniel dam at 2004 River Rally

Tabaret is a Bad Idea

About the Kipawa

The best thing paddlers can do to help the cause of the Kipawa:

1. attend the rally and bring others including non paddlers to attend and buy beer and have fun

2. write your MP /MNA and raise the issue and post your objections -1 letter = 200 who didn't write

3. Write Thierry Vandal the CEO of Hydro Quebec strongly opposing the 132 MW standard decrying the use of "diversion" as the most environmentally inappropriate method of power production

4. Write Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec protesting that either the algonquin or the tabaret project will eliminate all other values on the Kipawa River by turning it into a dry gulch.

5. See if you can get other allied groups interested by showing your own interest, ie the Sierra Defense Fund, Earthwild, MEC, and so on.

6. Demand further consultation

7. Currently we are at the point where we need to sway public opinion and raise awareness.

However, if all else fails, don't get mad, simply disrupt, foment, and protest . The Monkey Wrench Gang.

Have you read Edward Abbey?

Important Addresses
CEO,Hydro Québec, 75 boul René Levesque, Montreal, P.Q., H2Z

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Two)

Les Amis de la Riviere Kipawa is poised to use an application to the Federal Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus to ensure the Minster does what he is supposed to do, protect the public's right to navigate the water control structure at Laniel, Quebec using the Navigable Waters Protection Act. (see

In the now gutted Navigable Waters Protection Act lay the means by which the Minister of Transport could keep the public right of passage down our great Canadian Heritage, our rivers and streams which are threatened especially by resource corporations and power brokers such as Hydro Quebec.

These powerful entities continue to petition that 'this' river or 'that' stream is not navigable and therefore not protectable.
I don't say that dams and bridges should not be built, only that if they are, historical navigation rights should be considered and preserved by making reasonable accommodations for recreational boaters.

It is the Minister of Transport, in exercising the right to allow or disallow work on or over a navigable waterway is what keeps boats and recreational boaters plying our waterways.

To many recent cases launched in the Federal Court concerning the Navigable Waters Protection Act, most recently the case of the Humber Environment Group of Cornerbrook Newfoundland versus the Cornerbrook Pulp and Paper Company indicates that the important oversight is not being faithfully performed. Have we really come to the point now where we must say "such and such a stream is one foot deep, possessing so many cubic feet per second flow and so on?" The answer to this is... YES!

The honourable Mr. Justice John A. O'Keefe, ruled that it had not been shown that the river was navigable. How convenient was that to the Minister? But either the Minister of Transport acts to protect our rivers and streams as a public right or he does not and that means rivers and streams currently enjoyed by kayakers and canoists.

Enough of the cheating, and double-talk. Canadians! our rivers and streams are our own, lets urge the Minister of Transport and the our government to protect them.

Peter Karwacki

Tabaret is a Bad Idea (Part Three)

10 Reasons WhyTabaret is a Bad Idea1) Tabaret is too big. The station is designed to useevery drop of water available in the Kipawawatershed, but will run at only 44 percent capacity.We believe the Tabaret station is designed to usewater diverted from the Dumoine River into theKipawa watershed in the future. 2) The Tabaret project will eliminate the aquaticecosystem of the Kipawa River.The Tabaret project plan involves the diversion of a16-km section of the Kipawa River from its naturalstreambed into a new man-made outflow from LakeKipawa. 3) Tabaret will leave a large industrial footprint on thelandscape that will impact existing tourismoperations and eliminate future tourism potential. 4) The Tabaret project is an aggressive single-purposedevelopment, designed to maximize powergeneration at the expense of all other uses. 5) River-diversion, such as the Tabaret project, takinglarge amounts of water out of a river’s naturalstreambed and moving it to another place, is verydestructive to the natural environment. 6) The Kipawa River has been designated a protectedgreenspace in the region with severe limitations ondevelopment. This designation recognizes theecological, historical and natural heritage value ofthe river and the importance of protecting it.Tabaret will eliminate that value. 7) If necessary, there are other, smarter and morereasonable options for producing hydro power onthe Kipawa watershed. It is possible to build a lowimpactgenerating station on the Kipawa river, andmanage it as a “run-of-the-river” station, makinguse of natural flows while maintaining other values,with minimal impact on the environment. 8) The Kipawa watershed is a rich natural resource forthe Temiscaming Region, resonably close to largeurban areas, with huge untapped potential fortourism and recreation development in the future.Tabaret will severely reduce this potential. 9) Tabaret provides zero long-term economic benefitfor the region through employment. The plan is forthe station to be completely automated andremotely operated. 10) The Kipawa River is 12,000 years old. The riverwas here thousands of years before any peoplecame to the region. The Tabaret project will change all that.

Problems on a local River?

  • There is more to do as well but you have to do your research and above all, don't give up.
  • IN the meantime prepared a document itemizing the history of navigation of this spot and its recreational value. Use the Kipawa river history of navigation as a guide: see
  • Under the Ministry of Environment guidelines you have a set period of time to petition the change under the environmental bill of rights, you may have limited time to take this action. But it involves going to court for a judicial review of the decision.
  • 4. contact the ministry of natural resources officials and do the same thing.
  • 3. contact the ministry of the environment and determine if they approved the project
  • 2. determine if the dam was a legal dam, approved under the navigable waters protection act.
  • 1. research the decision and timing of it to determine if an environmental assessment was done.

Minden Ontario

Minden Ontario
Gull River Water control at Horseshoe lake

A History of Navigation on the Kipawa River

Prior to the environmental assessment there was no signage at the Laniel Dam

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!

T-Shirts Area: These are available now!
Send $25 and a stamped self addressed envelop for the Tshirt, and for the bumper sticker, a stamped and self addressed envelope with $5.00 for the bumper sticker to Les Amis de la rivière Kipawa, 80 Ontario St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 1K9 or click the link To purchase a Les Amis "T" contact Doug with the following information: Number of shirts:Sizes: Ship to Address: Method of Payment: cash, cheque and paypal, Shipto address:

Bumper Stickers Now Available

Bumper Stickers Now Available
Get your bumper sticker and show your support for the Kipawa Legal Fund ! - send $5.00 in a Stamped, self addressed envelope to: Peter Karwacki Box 39111, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 7X0