following statement is not correct:

“Running at full output,
Churchill Falls (CF), would discharge about 2000 cubic metres per second into
the Churchill River. Assuming no reservoir draw down, this level of discharge
from CF would by itself provide about 630 MW of production at Muskrat Falls. We
could run MF at a higher output level for a period of time and draw down the MF
reservoir… we could keep it at Muskrat Falls as well as anywhere else.”

was Gil Bennett talking a couple of years ago to law student and political Blogger, John Samms, who
is now on staff in the Premier’s Office. Note the word “drawdown” to which I
will return.

the time Bennett was telling Samms how Nalcor intended to access surplus power from
the Upper Churchill; the amount that exceeded what Bennett erroneously thought
was the full contractual power commitment to Hydro Quebec. That assumption
didn’t work out too well for Nalcor, the Quebec Superior Court having ruled
that Hydro Quebec is entitled to all the power that the Upper Churchill can generate.
The Water Management Agreement, intended to coordinate the flow of water, was
stillborn too.

style of governance which allows a crown corporation to proceed with a multi-billion
project without first obtaining certainty over previously-known disputed rights
is just testimony to why the province is essentially insolvent. Ultimately, the
Muskrat Falls Inquiry is about making Nalcor accountable.

course, this story is old hat; but it wasn’t the only one offered up by the
Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee in response to a recent ATIPPA inquiry — the
same one that revealed the allegation that former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin maintained a
secret risk reserve for the Muskrat Falls project which, ostensibly, was not
included in the official estimates or disclosed to the public (including the

within the same tome was a letter from a worried Premier Ball to SNC-Lavalin
about the advisability of “drawdown” of the Muskrat reservoir. Remembering
Gilbert’s declaration to Samms, I could see that Bennett was, again, sharing
his expertise at the highest levels. Hadn’t Premier Dunderdale received enough
of that?

Nalcor Executive V-P Gilbert Bennett

admit “drawdown” seems a pretty innocuous word, though it does have some mighty
implications. It became important to Ball, too, but for quite different
reasons. He was in the midst of delicate negotiations with aboriginal groups,
having given native leaders an undertaking — following hunger strikes by three
people and demonstrations in 2017 — that the reservoir would be reduced to
natural levels until issues relating to methylmercury issues had been ironed

“unequivocal” advice — that’s the Premier’s word — appeared suddenly as the Premier’s
letter revealed its importance. My first reaction was to run for the matches
until I realized I was in possession of material legally obtained and that all
the heart palpations were for naught.

it did seem strange that the letter was issued under Ball’s pen. One might have
expected that the CEO of Nalcor, Stan Marshall, would the one trying to
straighten out the confusion coming out of the Office of his Executive VP.

Premier had evidently been made aware by other Nalcor officials of SNC-Lavalin
correspondence which warned against drawdown of the reservoir and the risks
inherent in the practice. The Premier’s missive to SNC read:
letter continues:
get to the letter in a moment. But, first, Bennett’s dialogue is notable in
part for its inconsistency with the evidence Nalcor filed with both the PUB and
the Joint Federal/Provincial Environmental Panel. Bennett’s assertion that, if
the power was needed, “We could run MF at a higher output level for a period of
time and draw down the MF reservoir…” is simply not correct.
contrast Bennett told the PUB, in 2009, that in the absence of a Water
Management Agreement it would have to “chase the flows” from the Upper
Muskrat Falls reservoir is relatively tiny which is why it is often referred to as a “run of river” facility. It has
reserves of water for no more than a day or two, unlike the Upper Churchill
which has vast reserves. In addition, Nalcor told the PUB that the Muskrat
Falls reservoir will be maintained at 39.0 meters to optimize the energy output
from the falls.
issue of “drawdown” of the Muskrat Falls reservoir is important for other
reasons, though its relationship with optimizing power production cannot be
understated. Dr. Jeffrey Brooks of the Geological Survey of Canada, for
example, recommended to the Joint Federal/Provincial Environmental Panel that
“Nalcor establish a procedure for drawing down the Muskrat Falls reservoir to
minimize the chance of triggering a large-scale earth flow.”
Brooks was referring to geotechnical issues associated with the project,
particularly the problem of “quick clay”-induced bank instability and risks
associated with seismicity along the Churchill River. He was concerned that “if
they [Nalcor] draw the water down rapidly, there could be high pour water
pressures that trigger some of these [bank] failures.”
its final Report, the Joint Panel stated: “In order to operate the reservoirs
as efficiently as possible, Nalcor would keep the water levels at a fixed level
for most of the year, avoiding the big changes that people have been used to
seeing in the Smallwood Reservoir.”

one might expect, the reply to a concerned Premier from SNC-Lavalin was important
and, likely for that reason, it was prompt. Their intention was not to affirm
the advice that Gil Bennett had given him, but to correct it. Among the reasons
SNC noted as factors that increase the risk of landslides:

SNC gets to the most essential point:

took some care to address why a quick drawdown is imprudent given adverse soil
conditions along the Churchill River. It stated that the circumstances might
occur during construction or due to an unforeseen event noting that “a natural
risk of land
slide exists along the river banks [and] the probability of such
landslides however small it may be should be minimized.” SNC continues that
“should it be found necessary to lower the water level, it should be done
gradually at a rate determined by geotechnical specialists unless we are facing
imminent risk…”

the case of a rapid lowering, “an exceptional event… not expected to happen in
normal circumstances…” says SNC.  

Copy of Premier Ball’s Letter to SNC-Lavalin July-2017 re: bank stability MF project
Copy SNC-Lavalin Reply to Premier Ball August- 2017 re: bank stability MF project
the SNC letter puts paid to the concept of employing the use of “drawdown” to
substitute for the absence of a Water Management Agreement too. Drawdown when
the riverbank is “fully saturated” is a risky proposition that may cause
landslides. Rather, say SNC, “we recommend to minimize the drawdown of the head
pond and maintain water elevation… in order to minimize the potential risk of
instability along the riverbanks.”

extensively, SNC counsels the Premier:

When the Premier is given bad advice by senior officials on fundamental issues, the
public is apt to wonder how frequent such events are occasioned. Worse, when projects
as large as Muskrat Falls are advanced on completely fallacious assumptions and
are neither corrected nor caught by people paid to know, you have to
ask: who is being served?

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?


  1. Is this fellow Bennett now at the table, giving advice and negotiating the bailout of the stranded asset MF? As Heracles says, while the Supreme Court decision has been made, the "partnership" is delaying the Public announcement. Working a deal for takeover is involving political expediency, and postponing the General Inquiry. Wake up NL, recall your Senators and MPs. This is looking more like the BC Government sell off of BC Rail, and the ON government sell off of Ontario Hydro. Shadow Inquiry, well done in exposing the "Shadow Deal".

  2. For our Engineering friends, as a sober reminder of how human made structures fail;


    It came down to the fact that "non Engineering certified" work was the weakest link which caused the failure. The courts are deciding what caused the failure of the concrete hoarding at Muskrat. Was this "near fatality", big miss the result of using non certified work? How much non certified work was actually carried out on this project? What consequences? Shadow Inquiry needs to delve. Jim Gordon, Phil Helwig, Eng.?

  3. So GB will become the "main man", we suspect when Stan the man departs. I think he indicated that a little while ago, that he was eager to get back to his retired life as soon as he had completed muskrat. Imagine that now. GB the man in charge of nalcor. OMG, the cable guy. And someone mentioned, that he did not seek standing at the inquiry. What does that mean? He has no need to defend himself in the boondoggle, or he won't be called, or he is too busy to attend to such trivial matters. Or he thinks himself above the law. What will Leblanc have to say about that. Someone please tell me, says Joe blow.

  4. Well, Average Joe, I know you are following. Now look at the photo of Gil, is that a face you can trust. And not 2 but 3 colors of facial hair. And can anyone find a smiling Gil to see if can past the sociopath test. Now Kim the Rocket Man is the poster boy for this test, smiles like a shark, all teeth showing. Trunpie wants to meet in private with Kim, just two of them in a room. If that happens, Trumpie is likey to disappear altogether, Kim be 240 pounds heavier, and his full toothed smile intact, but his teeth red instead of white.
    But back to Gil. UG is spot on to get into the meat of the false engineering assumptions, where P.ENG Gil Bennett is the leading suspect. The UG Shadow Inquiry should not let these engineers off the hook. Bennett needs his own standing before the Leblanc Inquiry, and for cost saving be forced to use the same legal counsel as Madame Dunderdale, who promoted these clowns as world class engineers. They are cancer on the reputation of many good engineers in this province.
    As to anon@9:21 saying charge them or shut up, to the contrary, past time we talk more of the cone of silence endorsed by Peng2, and also endorsed by engineer Heracles, from Quebec on this blog.
    Robert Holmes, Jim Gordon, W Adams, Phil Helwig, I think would agree. So says PF.

    • Heard via the grape vine that "somebody in the know in Sask", who worked on the transmission lines from Muskrat; "everything is working, one generator is producing power, checking and testing lines to NS. etc." Is Stan preparing his project closeout report with final cost management, final deficiencies lists, etc? He could possibly be off the job in a month or so. Has earned a long rest and retirement.

    • Anony @ 10:35:

      My conscience is clear-my name will show on reports going back to the 90s showing that MF wasn't a good idea.

      I am sorry if you were one of the 70% that supported MF and now have second thoughts-if you never supported MF, ask both your neighbors why they supported it, because that is the ratio of MF support to dissent upon sanction provincially.

      There was significant dissention by groups and people in the media to MF but the populace wanted it and didn't care or listen. Am I now supposed to feel bad because I went there trying to execute it as prudently as possible and practiced my profession?

      MF was and is a political decision pure and simple-last time I checked there are very few engineers that enter politics because ethically politics violates their professional ethics. Of all the self-regulating professions, fewer engineers enter politics than any other profession-and there is a reason for that.


    • Peng2… Guess I am not one that blames you personally for participating and making a buck on muskrat…because as I have said before if you did not, get out of the way and I will get someone else….maybe from another province or somewhere else around the world. NL would get a hell of a lot of taxes from that guy or company. Lol. And I don't know you, maybe you made a billion on muskrat. But why would 70 per cent of the people support muskrat???? That is the question. Let everyone answer that question honestly to themselves. As you say, the neighbour on both sides of you. And I don't think it was because they had a job working on muskrat, but no doubt all those who did, supported muskrat, it was their bread and butter. Plus anyone with a relative or friend working at muskrat probably supported muskrat. The greatest make work project ever. And all govt. Money and borrowed money. And the local politicans lapping it up.as a matter of fact I heard some politicans espousing that very fact, that that was what was driving the local economy, and the govt. taxes that was pouring in. Guess, as UG said we are now just coming off the drunken Bing and waking up to reality. So, who do you blame for this festival??? And some say, so what, we should do it all over again, if given the chance, like with gull. Power we don't need and can't sell at all, or certainly not at a profit. OMG, our leaders, and we all know who we are, says Joe blow. Just my ramble for today. The govt. is good for it….hey boy….if you can find consolation and a clear conscious in that….then let her go fer the gullies boys….and gotta get me moose too….

    • Please bear in mind that we were fed half truths and outright lies by those who conceived, sanctioned and executed this shameful purge of the public purse to satisify a little man with a bloated ego. Given the information we were confronted with, it looked like we had no other option but to go with an "UN-NEEDED" project. The only way we will be protected from unscruptulous people leading us into oblivion like what has happened here is for the justice system to hand out appropriate punishment (and that includes jailtime). Nobody should be above the law which is what will happen unless people with principles act accordingly. DW, KD, Fast Eddie and others have done an unrepairable disservice to NL and should hang their heads in shame.

    • Peng2. I really cringe when you present the 70% support notion you've now penned on occasion. If those 70% were sold on lies then that whole argument is nothing but horse-shit. Other than the same crew of naysayers I don't recall any major media, prominent politicians or others from the professional domain forcefully speaking out… with facts now being exposed. Just think of the weight it would've carried if someone (yes, perhaps you), or say, a group of professionals tied to the project had spoken out in media… even as late as 2014. Could things have been different? That opportunity is now water now through the dam. OR, maybe I missed that Breaking News Report where you and your ethical colleagues really stepped up for the NL people… you know, the populace, those who really wanted this mess. Pay cheque or quality check? Clear conscience? Yeeeeaah.

    • Wellllllll, I expect Joe has watched Kim and Trumpie, and even CNN host today had a body language expert on to describe the hand shake, the quick grab on the arm etc, but also the smiling Kim when there was nothing to smile about, saying that a smile masks other emotions. So Joe, even CNN is catching on to my theory of a sociopath smile, especially Kim, and I may not get my Nobel for the originator of this theory.
      But back to Nfld.
      Peng2 says his conscience is clear, that records form the 1990s show he opposed MF. What does records from 2006 to 2012 show. And is Leblanc permitted to go back to the 1990s.
      Peng2 posed the question as to why 70 % of Nflders supported MFs. That is a good question. And as DM says that if they, or many of them were sold on lies, then Peng2 argument is bullshit. Peng2 may have a clear conscience because, maybe, he has a low bar as to what one can do for your country instead of what your country can do for you. He wants to elevate the moral and ethical standard of engineers above that of other professions. But does that meet the smell test. We once believed that of priests, to our detriment. Is his opinion of moral superiority evidence based.
      What can we find of his signature as a anti-Muskrateer between 1990 and 2012, or up to 2018. He appeared suddenly after Stan Marshall took the reigns, if memory serves. He generally sits on the fence, condemns Danny and praise Stan. He stays silent on some issues of MFs. He did not file anything with the Leblanc Inquiry as did 20 or so others. He did not respond to Dunderdale`s plea for anybody with knowledge why MFs was not the best thing since sliced bread, to come forward. We had key engineers with the knowledge and insight that the public lacked and what did they do. F–k all. They sat on it, kept it under their hat, content that our province go bankrupt, or high risk for that, as we all now see, but they suspected for decades.
      But I am unfair to call out just Peng2, as there were many who shared his professional opinions. They had expertise, if not world class, than surely technically sound as compared to the Cable Gil. Yet Cable Gil did all the talking and shoveled all the bull, world class bull, bought by most of the 70 percent. Why…..because they had no alternative sound information from guys like Peng2, or so says PF.

    • Now pal face, or PF, you could be in the running for the noble, along with Kim, Gil and Trumpie, no, not me I am not in the same catagory, with orgional theories or new
      Peace plans. Trumpie was bubbling over with bubble head comments about Kim, his new found bro-love, as almost in the same catagory, except Kim has more credentials to his name, like murderer, death to his own relatives, and cruality to his people, and comes from a long list of dictators, which I am sure Trumpie envies that latter title. Trumpie even said his people love him. So if Trumpie keeps heaping praise on Kim, he will do himself out of the Nobel, and you could win by default as I don't think the sweeds will be convinced to give it to a sociopath like kim, and as you said you are more likely to get more support from news outlets like CNN. But don't think you will get much sympathy from local media, as Gil is in like flint. And it could be a toss up between you and Gil. He will be the main man for all of nalcor some day soon, says joe blow.

    • I am not sure why someone would claim any profession has more obligation than the electorate to protect itself, if someone could clarify it would be helpful.

      Anyway, I can quickly think of at least 10 groups, people or reasons the public ought to have not believed the PCs on MF at the time, including:
      1) Feehan at MUN
      2) Bruneau at MUN
      3) various feasibilities studies on the Anglo-Saxon route and a MF only development
      4) the PCs had a proposal in hand form Ont-Que but rejected it
      5) even if costs were $6-8B, rates would still rise significantly
      6) 2041 Group
      7) various supreme court rulings on UC
      8) no WMA in place
      9) PUB statements on the work
      10) SM when at NL Power publically stated NP Power wanted no part of it
      11) engineering reports such as SNC Risk Analysis (there are others that have been publically available dating from 1970s through 2003)

      If the above wasn’t enough to get people to at least think I am not sure what would-as I have said several times at least 70% of the population wanted MF.

      I don’t take anything personal, but I also suggest that unless you review the facts there is no plausible reason that I can see that the PUBLIC shouldn’t have raised more questions and it wasn’t the responsibility of those working there-the PUBLIC got what they asked for when they voted; to me voters let themselves down.

      To be clear, I have no political alignment, nor did I ever think the idea of bring in oil industry guys to do civil construction in NL was a good idea; also I would offer Stan Marshall has done as good of a job at MF and it is in a better place than before he started. I am certainly open to a good debate on SM performance.


    • Omg peng2, will have to disagree on most of what you say in your last comments, can agree on a couple of points. Agree that the electorate should not blame other professionals for not protecting them. The way our system works is we hold our political leaders to a great extent in the way we vote, because if we vote poorly it is because we have not been properly lead or informed by our politicians. The items you mentioned are some of the topics that our politicans should have informed the people, and that is why I say, something as important as muskrat there should have been a referandum with politicans on both sides of muskrat, for and against, then maybe the electorate could have been better informed. Only about 10 or 20 percent of the electorate would have any clue of the topics or people you mentioned, the two university profs, were drowned out by another prof, Locke. Yes maybe the same 20 percent knew the pub was excluded, but so what, that was only Andy, appointed by Danny. 70 or 80 percent of the electorate never heard, or remembered the other topics you mentioned. A big percentage of the electorate only knew about Dannie, in that he had made us rich, in that he had not only taken the oil from the ground, but had put it there in the first place. But of course you and I and another 20 percent knew he did neither. So what ever Dannie said was like the word of God. 70 percent voted for muskrat because Dannie said it was good for us, even Locke, as he only presented things in favor of the govt. and muskrat. So no you really can't blame the people for supporting muskrat, you can only blame the politicians who misled them, including the opposition parties. Guess I won't disagree with you on Stan the man was better for muskrat, who spent all his life in the hydro field, as far as I know, compared to Eddie, offshore oil guy, who was new at dabbling in civil engineering like muskrat. I would add one more item to your list, the book Muskrat Madness by …that book should have been provided free of charge to every house hold and on line, and every public library and then vigorously promoted by a political party and then the electorate may have been better informed to vote more wisely on muskrat. And again that should have been a part of a referandum on muskrat, says average Joe.

    • Good points Joe. Most was clueless about MFs, and many still are. Avery complicated and technical project that even engineers understand bits and pieces. Those engineers were most all with the power companies including Nalcor. And Peng2 says the public shold have known the risks! Even the politicians right up to Dunderdale didn understand it and would says Nalcor and Ed Martin are the world class experts, trust them. The Russioan proverb ` Trust but verify` did not apply. Just trust them.
      Peng2 suggets that the public should understand the complexities and risks. Bullshit. The public knows if it wanted a 60 or 100 watt light bulb, but does not know what a watt is. Seriously, a watt! 100 watt bulb at 120 volts uses o.8333 amps of electricity. Most people know that regular household appliances use 120 volts, but could not calculate the amps.
      I guess more know E=MC squared, Einsteins equation for mass and energy is better known that that for a watt.
      Watts = E x I where E is the voltage and I is the amps used.
      So a 100 w bulb, E is 120 volt. So amps is watts divide by voltage, so 100 divide by 120 , and presto: amps is 0.833
      So a electrician knows that, but not Dunderdale, and we let her loose dealing with 824,000,000 watts, when she couldn`t even explain a single watt.
      Now we needed technical info explained in general language for common people to understand the risks we were trusting to the idiots, without verification.
      So Ball wanting to know the impact of lowering the water level too fast, yes, why was Ball not asking this in the debate in 2012. Because Peng2 and his buddies never came out of their coocoons to speak up on that and other risks. We had politicians, dumb and dumber. And voters likewise dumb and dumber. Who would inform them. Not those under their cone of silence, who knew the risks. A handful of naysayers smothered by the Nalcor PR machine, says PF.

    • Boys this is reminiscent of the Bush years and the "Known and unknowns" statements, (Rumsfeld, et al). So what do we know NOW? Who is playing with today's reports, and current events and incidents, accounts, expense statements, contract admin stuff? Who is being protected from due diligence, and exposure? certainly not the rate payer and the public. What is going on behind the curtain?

    • Anony @ 11:43:

      Please quote me correctly-I did not say the public should have known the risks, very few can understand the complex technical/risk nature of a MF-I said that there was more than enough publically available information that the public should have questioned what was going to happen with a MF and held the powers that were to task by using their ballot.

      The public allowed themselves to believe all was good inspite of a significant body of information saying otherwise.

      Maybe most don't remember some of the tirades DW, KD and EM et al went on whenever someone said a bad word about MF-well I do and some of those characters continue to spout that same crap today. No wonder most don't want to speak up.

      Whether you accept or not-there was more than enough information out there 15yrs ago on MF that the public should have questioned it more than they did-for those that ignore by trying to diffuse their own blame history will repeat it many times over, I cant remember who said that but it suits most of the NL populace.


  5. Is there any additional information to go with the first paragraph quote from Mr. Bennett to Mr. Samms? Drawing down the reservoir from 39m to its minimum level of 38.5m should be possible by operating the turbines at higher output then would be deemed necessary to balance the flows coming into the reservoir and maintaining the level at 39m. Was he stating it would be possible to draw down further than this? 0.5m of draw down doesn't exactly give you a lot of extra output but it's something.

    Was the advice the Premier received from Mr. Bennett provided in writing? If so, has that memo or report been released? I doubt very much this advice would be passed on as verbal only as it would be far too easy for a no-technical person to mess it up. Context is important and I think that memo or report would be interesting to read to see if Bennett's advice is completely contradictory to that of SNC-L.

    Also, 'chasing the flows' doesn't necessarily mean drawing down the reservoir as the spillway gates and turbine output can be adjusted, or shut down, to maintain the reservoir level at 39m. As long as flows in and flows out of the reservoir are balanced then the reservoir can stay at the same level.


  6. BC Government getting nervous as to whether BC Hydro is acting in best interests of the rate payers;


    Sounds familiar. Expect Dougie to follow through and have the CEO of private company running Ontario Hydro fired. Nobody seems to trust Hydro Engineers with public funded bankroll any more. Will Ball shake up Nalcor before or after the General Inquiry and next election in NL?

    • Will Ball ever shake anything?
      Is Ball capable of shaking anything?

      As we inexorably sink into the MF quagmire Ball invites Trump to a Broadway show.
      That's constructive action, for sure.

      I presume the show tickets, airfares, the luxury hotel on Central Park, the limos to and fro, the snack trays during the intermission, the champagne, the entourages, the bodyguards, the missuses, will be paid for out of the Ball public petty cash box.

      Have I missed anything?
      Oh, they both have great hair, but Ball's suits are better looking.

    • Yes.
      Hydrogen fuel cell technology is not popular for many reasons, mostly to do with the LZ 129 Hindenburg.

      I guess the inventor might claim he has been put down by Big Oil and Big Electricity for obvious reasons, but I think everyone rightly fears hydrogen fuel cell technology.

      An illuminating wikipedia article here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell
      explains the market and commercial status, explaining that the greatest hindrance in the century long development is the platinum required for the reactor.
      The article explains that some developing companies have quit the fuel cell technology because it isn`t seen as commercially viable.

      Gensys says a single power unit runs about the cost of a conventional furnace, say less than 10k.
      Gensys has been around since the early 2000`s but still languishes in a take-up limbo.

  7. So the physics of the soil of the riverbank demand that MF be purely a run-of-the-river operation. That means that there is no possibility of the control structures and reservoir being used to moderate the effect downstream of high water flow like the kind of thing that happens every single spring. In the past, before Nalcor controlled the river, the falls would back up above the falls in the spring and spread the flow of spring floodwaters over a longer period of time below the falls than above the falls. The very first time that spring flood waters ever flowed past MF without restriction, Mud Lake was under water. This past year, ice was thin everywhere in upper Lake Melville. There were no ice jams and no flooding. In a more normal year, if there is such a thing any more, who can say what might happen. But if I owned property in Happy Valley, I'd dump it before next spring. RGB

    • Yes, last year they said water in = water out so they said they were not doing anything. What they were doing that was different was letting water past through, I suggest little unrestricted, meaning they were in fact opening the gates to let a lot of water through, and no backing up as was the natural state prior to last year. When at elevation of 39m with a bigger area, they may control the flow by backing up the elevation an extra 18 inches, but even such changes may often be a problem.
      So, last year when they said they were doing nothing to impact the flow and flood, this was false, and deliberately so. Does PENG2 agree with that I wonder….Seems Nalcor will not admit they were opening gates to allow more water through.

    • WA:

      I think I have said before that there is a difference in head control vs flow control. An easy way to verify Mud Lake is by comparing head levels pre and post MF-rivers are naturally dominated by flow control, their head varies to restrict flow to a certain range-hydro facilities are more so governed by head and have the ability to overflow a spill channel (hence warning signs). Simply put, if in a thaw either the flow or head (or both) must rise.

      Whether or not the differences between flow vs head control caused the Mud Lake situation is hard to say-I maintain there is not enough info on the Churchill to say.


    • "Not enough info on the Churchill to say", I agree with that totally. It's like saying who or what destroyed the fishery. You can easily list a dozen things that contributed to the demise of the cod fishery, including not enough info. by DFO, yet they have been so called managing and surveying the fishery for 70 years or more. And if they tried they could not increase or decrease the biomass, because Mother Nature is a complicated echo system, that we don't fully comphrend or have the info to understand how it all fits together. And then when we infer with the fish sticks, MN responds in mysterious ways, and we are left more confused than ever. Now I am not saying that the Churchill river is as complicated as controlling and managing the fisheries on the Grand Banks, but i was just using that as an analogy. So, anyone pray tell me why the cod has not returned in almost 4 decades. And everyone will give different and varied reasons, and the powers that be, mainly scientist, DFO, have no firm idea why. I say because MN is in control and the variations are so complex, that it makes brain surgery seem like child's play. And those guys on the Churchill river have no firm idea of how to cause a flood or prevent one at Mud Lake says Joe blow.

    • Ahh Joe, your logic is sound, and your last sentence important: those guys on the Churchill river have no firm idea of how to cause a flood or prevent one at Mud Lake. So they learn by trial and error, not the what seems the principle of engineering design as I imagine it, with research , data , modeling, analysis, best practices and monitoring etc, even before sanction to know if and to what extent flooding can be controlled.
      And Peng2 seems to want to complicate the question posed to him of 1. did Nalcor open the gates to let more water through to maintain the reservoir level constant,leading up to the flood last May and 2: did they deliberately mislead the public by saying they did nothing to effect flow downstream. Yes or no answer to both please Peng2. You wish to complicate the matter with issues of head vs flow control, so says PF. Get to brass tacks please, as it appears you enable the culture of misinformation and want to avoid the truth.

  8. All these conversations about river water management are fine. Am I correct that the entitled water manager for the Churchill River is Hydro Quebec? If so, what do we know is the official procedure on getting answers from HQ for the "frustrated Premier"? Again, why the obfuscation, and uncertainty on such important public matters?

    • "…the entitled water manager for the CF river is HQ?"

      That's a relevant question Robert.

      For sure, HQ could cause considerable damage downstream if its operating protocols/parameters are faulty, or if it doesn't follow them properly. (Also, those protocols must have been agreed to and are followed by CFLCo)

      Since the last 40 years or so, those operating protocols / parameters have not caused any mess downstream (pls correct me if I'm wrong), and we may assume they still followed today.

      Obviously, the new contributing factor is MF and by all likelihood caused that flooding last year…

      Again, that illustrates even more the need for a win – win water management agreement (or better, HQ taking over the operation of MF – at the right price/conditions for everyone)