Eileen Delehanty Pearkes is hoping Cottonwood Falls could be turned back into a power producer. It was the city's source of electricity from 1896 to 1907.

Cottonwood’s power play

The site of Nelson’s first hydroelectric plant could once again become a power producer.

Part of a series marking Heritage Week in BC.

The site of Nelson’s first hydroelectric plant could once again become a power producer.

Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, who has long been involved in the restoration of Cottonwood Creek, says there’s an opportunity to include a model independent power project in revitalization plans for the area.

“One thing that came up in conversation with [Mayor] John Dooley about the creek restoration was the role the heritage of power production might play,” she says. “I think John said perhaps we could produce some power with this water.”

Preliminary investigation suggests the water coming out of the Cottonwood Falls culvert has enough head and flow to produce a noticeable amount of electricity — which could possibly be used to light the Cottonwood market, restored CPR station, and Baker Street-Railtown corridor.

Delehanty Pearkes says it’s not clear who would build or maintain such a facility, but Nelson Hydro, Columbia Power Corporation, BC Hydro, and FortisBC are all potential partners.

“They’re interested in demonstrating how an independent power project can function in a sustainable way that is not ecologically harmful,” she says.

In the case of Cottonwood Creek, the ecological harm occurred when the highway interchange was built in the early 1970s and the waterfall was forced into the culvert.

“The impact has long been done. This is an opportunity to take a culvert pipe that throws water down into a plunge pool and convert that into electrical power,” Delehanty Pearkes says. “We could create a hydroelectric facility that makes the best of a bad situation.”

She expects the project to have little or no aesthetic effect on the falls, and as a bonus, it would trigger a series of studies that could help achieve another goal: bringing fish back to the creek.

“The connection between nature and culture is what I like about this,” she says. “The cultural history of our region can connect with the natural features, and the contemporary culture too.”

Dooley, meanwhile, says the idea fits well with an overall plan for that part of town, which includes improved footpaths and an outdoor museum.

“I’m excited about it,” he says. “It talks about our history and will be an opportunity to highlight the area in general and also generate a little power.”

A subcommittee is expected to tackle the idea once a group working on a broader plan for the creek reconvenes in April. Other projects include planting riparian trees and shrubs, restoring wetlands and streambed, and creating spawning habitat.

Cottonwood Creek generated the city’s power from 1896 until 1907, when the much larger Bonnington Falls plant was completed.

 

Just Posted

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning

Very weak layer buried under recent snow a cause for concern

KBRH on watch for bed bugs after two recent cases

Spokesperson Mandy Lowery says there has not been a bed bug sighting at KBRH since Dec. 8

Coffee card donations return at Wait’s News

The program supplied over 200 cards last year

Trafalgar students build home for sanctuary horse

Grade 8 students collaborated on a project with a local farm sanctuary

Nelson won’t restrict parking amnesty to West Kootenay

So far, more than 800 people have responded with amnesty payments

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

Most Read