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

Parmedics union raises alarm over spike in out-of-service ambulances

Staffing shortages affecting service levels in Kootenays

Update: Car located in Pend d’Oreille River, teenagers remain missing

A fundraiser has been set up at Kootenay Savings in Fruitvale to help support the family

Award winning documentary to be screened in Nelson

‘The Bikes of Wrath’ will run April 5 and 6 at The Front Room

LETTER: Clean water is a right for First Nations

From readers Sandra Hartline and Keith Wiley

Winlaw Elementary to get new playground

It’s being funded by the provincial government

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Avalanche control tomorrow on Highway 1

Expect closures of up to two hours east of Revelstoke

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Most Read