The Yukon Electrical Company's application to re-license its Fish Lake hydro plant is getting a lot of attention.
Intervenors packed a Yukon Water Board hearing this week to protest the renewal for a 25-year licence extension.
The plant has been operating for more than 60 years and today provides about one per cent of the Yukon’s energy needs. But residents of nearby Jackson Lake blame Yukon Electric’s plant operators for a recent rise in local water levels.
"With the reduced full supply level we saw the highest levels we've ever seen on Jackson Lake [in the] summer of 2011. We've never seen them that high before," said Kate Elliot, who speaks for the Jackson Lake Community Association.
Jackson Lake residents are demanding guarantees against flooding.
Downstream in McIntyre Creek, environmental groups are demanding protection for salmon.
"We know that salmon are there, that's well-documented and we want to make sure that salmon are there for our children and our children’s children," said Al Von Finster, who made the case for "Friends of McIntyre Creek".
Von Finster says the existing license for the hydro plant made no provisions for downstream salmon.
Yukon Electric officials concede fluctuating water levels in Fish Lake cannot be controlled. Cord Hamilton told the water board licensing levels requested are just targets.
"Staying within that target range at all possible times is not achievable due to local variations of inflow, you know a flood can come along. So no, we cannot guarantee nor have we suggested that we could," said Hamilton.
Both the Kwanlin Dun and Taan First Nations are requesting compensation for the fluctuations.