Working with our Partners on the Exploits River

In July 2019, officials from both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the local Environment Resources Management Association (ERMA) visited some of our Exploits hydroelectric generation facilities, with a focus on the operation of the various fish passage systems.

Hydro continues to work with our government, conservation, and community partners to ensure the fish passage systems at Grand Falls, Bishop’s Falls and other dams are working as they should to help facilitate the annual salmon run on the Exploits River. Hydro owns and operates fish bypass systems at Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls to help guide juvenile salmon migrating downstream from the power canal back to the main river channel. Fishways at the Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls dams, owned by DFO and operated by ERMA, allow upstream migrating Atlantic salmon to get past the dams.

Hydro has also entered into a Minimum Flow Agreement with DFO to ensure that juvenile salmon are successfully moved downstream and adult salmon are successfully moved upstream to spawn. Minimum flow regimes are in place and adhered to for most of the existing dams in the Exploits watershed, including at Grand Falls and Bishop’s Falls, which are intended to maintain an adequate flow for habitat maintenance (in late fall to early spring) and for fish migration (during the remainder of the year).

The effective management and conservation of the Exploits River salmon resource is of great importance to so many in central Newfoundland. ERMA, which operates the popular salmonid interpretation centre in Grand Falls-Windsor, is interested in the ongoing enhancement of the salmon population and habitat, and is a long-established partner of Hydro’s.

First installed in the mid-90s, the fish passage system overseen today by Hydro and its partners has proven to be an important feature that has contributed to the success story of Atlantic salmon on the Exploits River.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and ERMA officials view the dam and fish ladder at Bishop’s Falls. (L-R) Peter Robbins, Hydro’s Sr. Manager for Hydraulic Production ; Kimberly Thompson, ERMA Executive Director; and Wayne Sullivan and Jack O’Rourke, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.