You Asked, FOCA found the Answer: Hydro One operations and invasive species
Question: July 2019 – a FOCA partner recently asked us what Hydro One’s operational standards were, with regard to preventing the spread of invasive species in their field operations. FOCA last heard from Hydro One about this issue in 2016 (see below). So, in early July 2019, we wrote to ask for an update:
FOCA and the 250,000 waterfront residents we look out for are vested stewards of their respective waterbodies. We also rely on our Local Distribution Companies (which is Hydro One, for virtually all of us) to deliver, upgrade, maintain, and repair—when necessary—our electrical grid, which necessitates access to the lake and bush country using boats, ATVs, trucks and other equipment.
The movement of these vehicles is always a source of concern, as equipment can carry unwanted and invasive species from place to place and from lake to lake. From time to time (and just this week from Haliburton) we hear from members who observe Hydro One boats launching or pulling out of waterbodies which do not appear to use invasive species spread prevention practices.
We asked Hydro One some years ago about their practices and posted your response. I thought it was worthwhile to ask again:
Does Hydro One regularly incorporate invasive species spread prevention practices into your field operations? (example is at: https://foca.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/FOCA-AIS-Tips-for-Boaters-2017-Fact-Sheet.pdf). Could you describe how it is incorporated into your operational standards or checklists?
Many thanks in advance for your response.
Terry Rees, Executive Director
Answer: Hydro One responded within days with this update:
I’ve spoken to our Environmental Services people. We have extensive polices on this issue as seen here: Hydro One Invasive Species response for FOCA 2019 (PDF, 7 pages) – in particular SP 1823 Invasive Species section 3.5 specific to Water / Board Access.
In fact, we reference FOCA’s tips for boaters in Appendix D.
We do train our team members on these protocols; however, if your members see a violation of these policies it would be helpful to let us know. If your members could give us any details such as time/place/boat number etc., that would be great. We’d track down the team member and go over the policies with him or her.
Hydro One Networks
YOUR ROLE: If you see anything out of the ordinary, let FOCA know and we’ll pass the details along to our contacts at Hydro One. Or, you can send a message directly to CustomerCommunications@HydroOne.com.
August 2016- FOCA Asked:
Dear Hydro One,
It recently came to FOCA’s attention that boats used by Hydro One in rural Ontario may not be routinely inspected for aquatic invasive species, washed at the end of each day, nor between individual lake visits. This was disappointing to hear, needless to say, as our association works diligently to encourage ALL boaters to do their part to protect our waterways. (http://foca.on.ca/invasive-species/)
FOCA is the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations, a not-for-profit organization with over 500 member associations across Ontario that represent 50,000 waterfront property owning families. Our member groups represent the interests of local residents and are focussed on healthy and sustainable lake environments.
On behalf of our membership we have a specific question: what actions has Hydro One taken / will be taking in 2016 to minimize the impacts from invasive species transfer related to the movement of boats vehicles and equipment, and how does your operations/training support the efforts to reduce the transport and spread of invasives?
The Province of Ontario places a high priority on reducing the risks from the unintended introduction of invasive species in the Province. (See http://www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/how-government-combats-invasive-species for more information).
The source of these harmful introductions include transient ATV or off-road vehicles (for on-land or terrestrial species like dog-strangling vine), and transient/trailered boat movements (for aquatic invasive species such as Zebra Mussels or Round Goby).
Given the breadth and scope of Hydro One’s activities and the amount of vehicular movement your rural employees are involved with, we feel it is very important that your organization does its part to reduce the threat of harmful species spread.
We would be pleased to work with you and your employees to help share this message, and to make cleaning your equipment an integrated part of your ongoing field activities.
Attached is one example of some simple best management practices that we recommend be embedded in your training and operational routines.
Given that Hydro One’s Environmental Policy explicitly recognizes the importance of protecting the environment and has a commitment to mitigating the impacts of your operations, this material may integrate well with your training, including best practices and environmental procedures that Hydro One employees and contractors must follow.
We look forward to your response. We would love to share Hydro One’s plans to embed best practices in your activities with our members in an upcoming FOCA Elert or newsletter. We’d love to showcase “leading by example”.
Terry Rees, FOCA
Hydro One Answered:
September 23, 2016
From: Hydro One Manager, Community Relations
Dear Mr. Rees,
Thank you for FOCA’s August 11, 2016 letter inquiring about Hydro One practices around water-based invasive species, and for forwarding your Tips for Boaters. Invasive species are a growing problem province-wide, and we certainly respect the work FOCA is doing to make its members aware of how to prevent the spread of invasive species.
As a company that uses boats as part of its operations, Hydro One is engaged in this important issue, and takes precautionary measures to manage and control the spread of invasive species.
Hydro One’s practices include robust boat and trailer washing, as regionally appropriate, to prevent the spread of invasive species. For example, Hydro One staff who service the central part of the province must ensure that after each use, a boat’s exterior and its trailer are washed with environmentally-friendly detergent using a pressure washer or brush. The bilge must also be washed after each use, or, if this is not accessible, environmentally-friendly bleach must be used to clean the equipment. If a Hydro One vessel enters multiple bodies of water in a single day, both the boat and trailer must be washed between each water entry at a Hydro One facility, local marina, or car wash.
Now that the draft regulations for Ontario’s Invasive Species Act have been posted on the EBR, Hydro One specialists will be reviewing them and commenting in the coming weeks. We will take the species listed as ‘prohibited’ and ‘restricted’ under advisement, and will fully comply with the regulations once finalized. We would be pleased to keep FOCA informed about how Hydro One updates its corporate practices for the movement and cleaning of equipment based on the new legislation.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.