Mining giant Rio Tinto’s control over the Nechako River watershed in Northern B.C. is being challenged by three impacted First Nations and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako.
According to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the regional district and the Saik’uz, Stellat’en and Nadleh Whut’en First Nations, the parties want to see a new water flow regime for the river “that benefits all people within the watershed,” plus the establishment of a new river governance regime.
The Nechako River was dammed at its source on the eastern edge of the Kitimat Ranges in the early 1950s to provide power to the Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat that is now owned by Australian company Rio Tinto.
As a result, communities were consumed by the 230 km reservoir system west of the dam, while the original flow of the river to Prince George — where it enters the Fraser River — was reduced by two thirds.