As part of the BC/Alcan 1997 Agreement between the Province and Alcan, Rio Tinto Alcan agreed to contribute up to $50 million to the Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund (NEEF). The purpose of this fund is to enhance the environment of the Nechako Watershed. The decision on the best use of the fund was given to a Management Committee (NEEF MC) whose structure and mandate is stated in the 1997 Agreement. In 2015 the Management Committee formed the NEEF Society to administer the projects and funds as directed by the NEEF Management Committee.
The role of the Management Committee is to review, assess and report on options that may be available for the downstream enhancement of the Nechako watershed area. The Management Committee will consult with the Nechako Watershed Council and any other stakeholders that the Management Committee considers apporopriate.
In 2001, after a lengthy process of consultation and technical studies, the NEEF MC made a legally binding decision that the fund should be used to build a cold water release facility at Kenny Dam on the Nechako River, but that further studies were required to address outstanding issues. Over a period of almost ten years these issues were addressed revealing that a cold water release facility at Kenny Dam would not provide the same suite of benefits as originally anticipated and that the costs of even a simpler, surface water release facility were estimated at $260 million.
Mindful of the information now available regarding the potential benefits and
costs of a water release facility, the Province and RTA decided to re-convene the NEEF MC to reconsider previous decisions for use of the fund, and in accordance with the BC/Alcan 1997 Agreement invited the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to participate.
In 2012 a second round of consultation with the public was conducted. The NEEF MC is tasked with the responsiblities associated with implementation of the NEEF MC decisions made during the public consultation processes in 2001 and 2012.
Overall four public meetings and eleven meetings with stakeholder groups and a further four meetings with scientists and subject matter experts were held. Information bulletins were distributed to over five thousand mailboxes on five occasions and were also inserted into local newspapers. Between December 2011 and May 2012, NEEF MC reviewed and assessed a total of six potential options for downstream enhancement of the Nechako watershed.
Following completion of the consultations and analysis of potential enhancement options for downstream enhancement of the Nechako watershed, the NEEF MC made 10 decisions for use of the Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund. Learn more about the NEEF MC Decisions here.
In 2015, the NEEF MC formed the NEEF Society. The role of the NEEF Society is to administer the projects and funds as directed by the NEEF Management Committee. The Society is governed by a Board of Directors.
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