In 1950 Alcan (now Rio Tinto) signed an agreement with the province of BC that led to the Kemano Project including construction of the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River and the formation of the Nechako Reservoir. The agreement included a conditional water license for hydro development so as to provide electricity for an aluminium smelter in Kitimat. Click on the map below to enlarge.
The components of the Kemano Project include (see map):
At the time of its construction in the early 1950's, the Kenney Dam was the largest rock-filled, clay core dam in the world.
In 1980, a project to complete development of Kemano was halted by DFO over concerns for salmon. In 1987, DFO, BC and Rio Tinto (Alcan) reach an agreement on project scope which included the project would have reduced discharge to the Nechako River from 36.8 m³/sec to 19.4 m³/sec plus summer temperature control flows as required. That agreement also established the mandate for the Nechako Fisheries Compensation Program (NFCP) which was to undertake an integrated set of monitoring programs and to design remedial measures for the benefit of Nechako Chinook and migratory sockeye salmon.
Although the project was cancelled by the Province of BC in 1995, the NFCP continued its work in anticipation of altered flows associated with construction of an additional spillway at Kenney Dam, with potential alterations to flow management and potential implications for salmon. Since the early 2000's, the program has continued its operations, albeit with a reduced level of activity as reflected in two 5-year plans (2007-2012; 2012 - 2017). The NFCP continues to annually monitor water flows and temperatures and Chinook salmon escapements, consistent with the terms of the Settlement Agreement. Chinook salmon escapement data are presently collected annually by the Stock Assessment Division of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and provided to the NFCP.