Removing underwater electrical cables? You asked – Hydro One answered

November 2014 – You Asked:

Dear FOCA-

I am a director on the board of the Lake X Association in the Addington Highlands. It has been brought to my attention that Ontario Hydro is leaving expired or replaced submarine cables in our lake after they have replaced a section that has proven defective. Our lake is a lake trout sensitive lake and all crown land sales and development has been frozen since the early ’70s to protect the water quality. Knowing these cables have been replaced due to corrosion and damage, their non-removal will only increase any toxic chemicals dissolving in the water as well as the new cables, unless they have been improved with non-corrosive materials recently. Has this particular issue been brought up by any other cottage association or individual? If so, please advise any details or action taken. Thank you for any assistance on this matter.

On behalf of our member group, FOCA secured a response from Hydro One, as follows:


In all of Hydro One’s operations on waterways in Ontario, we work under the authority of both the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Permissions, notifications and permits are obtained from these organizations for any work, including maintenance, installation and removal of submarine cables.

When submarine cable needs to be replaced, the decision regarding the disposition of the old cable is made in consultation with the government agencies mentioned above. In some cases the regulators will request the old cable be removed, but in most cases the preferred option is to leave it in place, due to the environmental damage it would cause to remove it. The negative impacts range from damaging fish spawning beds to disturbing sediments which would then become suspended in the water. Removing old cables can also damage other cables, affecting customer service.

Hydro One works with government authorities to ensure that submarine cable installation is completed between mid-July and late September. This timing minimizes the impact on spawning of most major game fish species.
When submarine cable must be left in place, it is cut and capped at a safe distance from the shoreline and in deep water, to eliminate a potential safety hazard.

New submarine cables installed today consist of a copper conductor encased in polymer insulation, surrounded by a mesh of neutral wires, and enclosed in a rigid polymer or rubber outer sheath. This type of cable is representative of industry standards and is extremely safe and non-toxic.

We trust that this addresses the questions of your lake association.

-Hydro One, November 11, 2014


Terry ReesRemoving underwater electrical cables? You asked – Hydro One answered