This post’s subject is the environmental impact study for installation of small hydropower plants. Each country has it’s own environmental regulation. Therefore I won’t enter in this part.
Have already been shown in “Big run-of-river hydropower plants” post, environmental impacts caused by hydroelectricity plants. However, not all environmental impact is negative.
What is it?
The environmental impact study is an instrument to evaluate environmental impacts caused by a project or activity which modifies the environment. The environmental diagnosis of afected area is made by a multidisciplinary team, including physical, biological and socioeconomic factors, Environmental impacts are analyzed and mitigation measures are defined. Environmental impact report is the synthesis of environmental impact study.
Objectives of environmental impact study
Objectives of study must be:
- To identify and describe environmental resources and values which will be affected by project’s execution.
Examples of environmental resources: atmosphere, surface and underground waters, sea, estuary, subsole, underground, ground, forest, wildlife, etc. Environmental resources provide environmental services, which have value and can be harnessed.
- To describe how the project will affect environmental resources and values, including positive and negative effects and it’s features like: direct or indirect, short and long run, cumulative and irreversible, temporary and permanent.
- To propose alternatives to project for achieve same goals with less environmental damage as possible.
- Identifiction: To determine environmental impact’s features on environmental resources, to compile a list of impacts, identify impact’s source. Impact’s identification is made with many instruments which will be subject for a future post.
- Prediction: To predict consequences of impacts in environment. Using technical data, mathematical models, photomontages, experiments, carthographic systems and expert’s advices. Making a comparison between scenarios with and without the project.
- Evaluation of impacts: Is environmental impact significant? Must be mitigated? This questions are answered based on legislation, protected areas, phenomena, threatened species, public acceptance and political objectives.
- Mitigation: In this phase, are proposed measures for prevent, reduce, remedy and compesate negative impacts. Some mitigation examples are: Fish ladder, erosion control, change of work site, restauration of affected areas, economic compesation for affected people.
- Documentation: To write environmental impact report.