Hydro-Québec has started impounding the reservoir for the 882MW St Marguerite project in Canada. The impounding, which took place six months ahead of the original schedule, will enable Hydro-Québec to save C$85M in project costs and generate an additional 2TWh of energy.

Construction of the C$2.5B project began in 1994, with the construction of access roads, preliminary works and construction camps. Contracts for the first phase of the project were awarded in 1996, with the contract for the 144m high dam going to EBC-Spie, a joint venture of Enterprise du Bonseil and Spi Batignoles of Quebec.

The first phase of the project consists of the dam spillway, 8.3km of tunnels and an underground power house.

Reports say the dam has already been completed up to a height of about 120m, and the power house and water intake tunnel are progressing according to schedule. The filling of the reservoir should take three years. Commissioning of the Sainte Marguerite 3 powerhouse will take place in the autumn of 2001.

Hydro-Québec is also making arrangements to pay compensation to the Innu community of Uashat-Maliotenam, which was affected by construction of the project. The compensation, amounting to C$20.9M (in 1994 dollars) will be paid over a period of 50 years. An additional C$10M has been set aside by the utility to carry out remedial and mitigation work to benefit the local people.

Hydro-Québec and the council representing the Uashat-Maliotenam community nego- tiated the compensation agreement in 1994.