Socio-Economic and Environmental Effects  Of Hydro

A Next Generation Hydro Project will require a suite of governmental approvals including: First Nations approvals, environmental assessment, permits, authorizations and licenses. Some socio-economic and environmental considerations, as described in the Directive, will be used to assess the viability of potential hydro sites in the first phase of the Next Generation Hydro Project – Project Identification. The Yukon Hydroelectric Power Planning Directive states that socio-economic and environmental effects must be considered in the project identification process. The technical team is performing a high level review of different hydro sites taking into account environmental and socio-economic criteria and constraints that will have to be considered once hydro sites are selected for potential development.

All sizable energy projects have both positive and negative effects at different project phases (from construction to operation) and the various project elements will have different socio-economic and environmental implications. These include impacts and benefits to lands and resource use and development, economic inputs, heritage resources and community structure and dynamics.

YESAA defines socio-economic and environmental effects as “the effect of any change [to the environment] on health and socio-economic conditions, physical and cultural heritage, the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal persons, or any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological, paleontological or architectural significance”.

Post phase 1 a more comprehensive socio-economic, environmental, traditional knowledge and engagement process will kick in for future Next Generation Hydro phases from pre-feasibility to the end of assessment and permitting (see Hydro Project Development Timeline Fact Sheet).

In particular, a hydro project will undergo assessment under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA), will require a license under the Yukon Waters Act, and will also likely require a Fish Habitat Offset Plan pursuant to the Fisheries Act and Fish Habitat Policy (2013). A number of other project authorizations not listed will also be required. These regulatory processes will only begin once a final project or projects are selected. This is one of the reasons it takes 10 to 15 years to build a medium to large hydro project. The tables below show some socio-economic and environmental characteristics. Any potential hydro project will have to consider these effects before approval.

Sample list of socio-economic effect considerations:

Land and Resource Use

  • First Nations Settlement and Interim Protected Land
  • First Nations cultural and traditional practices (i.e. hunting, traditional knowledge, cultural sustainability)
  • Land Tenure
  • Hunting, fishing, eco-tourism and outfitting
  • Trapping
  • Recreation
  • Tourism
  • Exploration and Mining activities
Economic Resources

  • Employment opportunities
  • Goods and services
  • First Nations economic opportunities
  • Project sustainability
Heritage Resources

  • Historic/archeological sites or objects
Community Structure and Dynamics

  • Health, well-being and vitality
  • Cultural well-being
  • Community stability
  • Services and infrastructure
  • Education and training


Sample list of environmental effect considerations:

Atmospheric Environment
Atmospheric Environment
  • Climate and meteorology
  • Ambient air quality
  • Ambient Noise level
Aquatic Environment
Hydrology Description of all lakes, streams, rivers within study area, watershed boundaries, river hydraulics/hydrology, bathymetry, Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM), flood zones, ice formation, dynamics and melt patterns;
Geomorphology Erosion, sedimentation, channel dynamics and sediment supply and quality
Water quality and quantity Surface and groundwater sources
Delineation and Description of riparian habitat Shoreline, flood zones, back channels, wetlands
Vegetation Aquatic and Riparian
Aquatic Fauna Composition, abundance, distribution, population dynamics and habitat utilization
Species of special interest (flora and fauna) Rare, vulnerable or endangered with consideration for any listed within the Endangered species act or species at risk act.
Terrestrial Environment
Land Features
  • Geology (bedrock and surficial)
  • Geo-chemical characterization of rock types, sediments that may be disturbed
  • Terrain and Soil
  • Seismicity
  • Mercury levels in proposed inundated areas
  • Identification and characterization of erosional areas or areas subject to instability, slumping or landslides
  • Groundwater movement, aquifer recharge zones
  • Permafrost conditions
Fauna Composition, abundance and distribution, population dynamics and habitat utilization
Flora Composition, abundance and distribution, forest inventory, ecological land classification. Special consideration for medicinal herbs, berries harvested by First Nation communities.
Wetlands Delineation, characterization and classification
Mercury Concentrations, mobility and fate within the riparian ecosystem
Species of special interest (flora and fauna) Rare, vulnerable or endangered with consideration for any listed within the Endangered species act or species at risk act.
Human-Wildlife Interaction

*Additional Valued Components will be identified as project and Baseline collection programs advance.