To improve its governance of biodiversity, Hydro-Québec adopted a new corporate strategy and action plan, and committed to public reporting on biodiversity.

Climate change, trade and some of our operations foster the proliferation of invasive animal and plant species and pathogens. Once established, these species can affect biodiversity and damage farms and forests. Our activities related to construction—especially excavation—operations and vegetation control can propagate these harmful species.

Study of vegetation management biosecurity

Hydro-Québec has studied the potential impacts of its operations on the propagation of nine harmful species. The bronze birch borer, emerald ash borer, balsam wooly adelgid and crown rot are the most likely to generate economic consequences for us or for other parties. These four species cause 75% of the most significant impacts.

According to the study, the operations most likely to increase the risk of propagation are the processing and transportation of clearing waste, on or away from the sites. We want to conduct a more in-depth analysis of the most hazardous pathogens in certain environments. We also wish to enhance our understanding of the risks and related costs, and develop simple tools that are appropriate for the particular context of our operations.

Hydro-Québec participates in the work of six at-risk species recovery teams coordinated by the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs. In this way, we contribute to the protection of some 15 at-risk wildlife species in Québec.

Our experts’ participation in Québec government recovery teams
Team Species
Fish
  • Channel darter
  • Eastern sand darter
  • Bridle shiner
  • Grass pickerel
  • American shad
  • Lake sturgeon
Amphibians and reptiles
  • Boreal chorus frog
  • Blanding’s turtle
  • Common musk turtle
  • Wood turtle
  • Common map turtle
Birds
  • Bald eagle
  • Golden eagle
  • Peregrine falcon
  • Short-eared owl
Mammals
  • Forest-dwelling woodland caribou
Vegetation control operations in a transmission line right-of-way in Lévis, near the city of Québec. These operations are designed to preserve biodiversity.

Activities in 2016

  • We published our second Biodiversity Performance Report.
  • Following the construction of Henri-Bourassa substation, five hibernation sites for non-venomous snakes were built to compensate for the loss of grassland habitat suitable to Dekay’s brown snake, a species likely to be designated threatened or vulnerable. The hibernation sites protect these reptiles from freezing in winter and predators in summer.
  • An ultrasound guidance system was installed at Rivière-des-Prairies generating station to divert American shad. Overall, few American shad were observed upstream of the water intakes, probably due to the efficiency of the system and the low turbine flows (34% to 60%) implemented as a result of the low runoff conditions.
  • At Beauharnois generating station, we operated two eel passes for 133 days. The pass on the left bank was used by 11,169 young eels (6,200 fewer than in 2015) to reach Lac Saint-François, whereas, for unknown reasons, the pass on the right bank was not used. At Chambly dam, the eel pass was operated for 101 days, allowing 8,174 eels (6,000 more than in 2015) to reach Lac Champlain.
  • We reforested a 6-ha area located along the Henri-Bourasse interchange and a stretch of Highway 40 to compensate for the loss of vegetation resulting from the expansion of Bout-de-l’Île substation and the redevelopment of line routes. Different types of tree species (red oak, bur oak, black cherry and black walnut) were selected for their ability to resist urban pollution and adapt to bioclimatic conditions.
  • We backfilled 687 m2 of the pond at the foot of Dozois reservoir’s Young dike, which we rehabilitated. To preserve biodiversity, we recovered the layer of organic matter at the bottom of the section of the pond to be backfilled and transferred it to the remaining pond. Our goal was to preserve native benthic invertebrates and maintain a habitat suitable to rapid recolonization. Before starting the work, we took measures to scare off or catch and relocate reptiles and amphibians. At the end of the work, we redeveloped the area around the pond to promote species reproduction. Finally, to offset the habitat losses caused by the dike rehabilitation work, we made a financial contribution to the Fondation de la faune du Québec.
  • Wildlife enhancements were developed in the right-of-way of the tap line for Blainville substation, whose construction resulted in the loss of habitat used by four-toed salamander. To provide new habitat for this species, we restored a pond located in the right-of-way by reducing the slopes of its banks and planting shrubs (Canada serviceberry, black chokeberry, nannyberry and wild raisin) along its perimeter. To provide habitat for amphibians and reptiles, we turned a sedimentation basin used during construction into a 350 m2 pond. We flattened the basin’s banks and planted shrubs (black chokeberry, sweet gale and wild raisin) and added tree trunks along its perimeter.
  • We joined forces with McGill University to better understand the effects of reservoir creation on fish biodiversity. First observation: In the early years after impoundment, there is a significant increase in fish populations, which gradually decrease and return to normal. Second observation: In boreal reservoirs, we did not observe any loss of species, but did notice a change in reservoir species assemblage. Species that prefer lentic habitats (lakes) do well in these reservoirs; whereas species that prefer lotic habitats (rivers) do less well, though they do not disappear. Finally, unlike in boreal regions, species do disappear in reservoirs located in tropical regions.

See also