As part of an Agreement between the Province of British Columbia and Alcan (BC/Alcan 1997 Agreement), Alcan agreed to establish and to contribute, on a matching dollar basis, up to $50M to the Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund (NEEF).
In accordance with Schedule 4 to the BC/Alcan 1997 Agreement, in 1997 the Province of British Columbia and (Rio Tinto) Alcan (“the Parties”) established a Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund Management Committee (NEEF MC) to review, assess and report on options that may be available for the downstream enhancement of the Nechako watershed area. As detailed in Schedule 4, any decisions of the NEEF MC are binding on the Parties.
For the purpose of identification and examination of options for the use of the fund, between 1999 and 2001 the NEEF MC undertook a lengthy process of consultation and completed a number of technical studies. At the conclusion of their consultations and studies, the NEEF MC decided amongst other things that a Cold Water Release Facility (CWRF) be constructed at Kenney Dam to enable downstream enhancement of the Nechako Watershed (Report of the Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund Management Committee, June 2001).
Between 2001 and 2011 the NEEF MC continued to function while the Nechako Watershed Council (NWC) assisted by the Nechako Enhancement Society (NES), undertook technical investigations needed to develop the criteria necessary to design, construct, commission and operate a CWRF (Kenney Dam ColdWater Release Facility, 2003-2007 Interim Report, April 2008 and Kenney Dam Cold Water Release Facility, Addendum to April 2008 Interim Report (2008 – 2009), September 2009).
Mindful of the information made available between 2001-2011 regarding the potential benefits and costs of a water release facility, the Province and Rio Tinto Alcan asked the NEEF Management Committee to reconsider previous decisions for use of the fund. Revisiting these decisions encompassed consideration of all options for environmental enhancement including a surface water release facility at Kenney Dam. In its September 2012 report, the NEEF MC identified the following options for use of the fund: support for construction of a Water Release Facility at Kenney Dam, restoration in Cheslatta watershed, support for Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery, restoration in Tributaries, stewardship activities, and integrated Watershed Research. The Fund has been accepting proposals for projects that meet those criteria since 1 October 2012.
In 2015 the Management Committee formed the NEEF Society to administer the projects and funds as directed by the NEEF Management Committee.