According to the “Northern Waters” report from the Montreal Economic Institute, environmental damage could be minimised by channelling off only the seasonal floodwaters of the Broadback, Waswanipi and Bell rivers to secure 14.2TWh net of electricity generation annually. The rivers basins of the tributaries would only be partially diverted.

The report claims that infrastructure of only ‘modest scope’ would be needed to collect, pump and convey the waters to both the Ottawa river and St Lawrence. The latter river would not have its flows modified while the scheme would enable Canada to export an equivalent amount of water to the US from the Great Lakes.

The scheme would call for additional equipment of 3000MW total capacity at 11 power plants on the Ottawa river.

In a statement, the Institute’s president, Michel Kelly-Gagnon, said the project ‘looks very serious to us at first sight and deserves at least a credible independent economic and environmental impact study rather than a back-of-the-hand rejection for strictly ideological reasons or irrational political fears’.

The report claims that the approximately Can$15bn (US$13.86bn) scheme could be built by 2022 and deliver annual revenues from power generation of almost Can$2bn (US$1.85bn) to Quebec.

It adds that further revenues of approximately Can$7.5bn (US$6.93bn) could be obtained each year from exporting water to the US as part of the scheme.