Wawatay Station

Wawatay Generating Station

Facility – The Wawatay Generating Station is on the Black River, near Marathon, Ontario. It is also known as the Black River Generating Station. Wawatay is a Greenfield development with minimal environmental impact. This project was completed in 1992 and all of the electricity is sold under a long term contract to OEFC (Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation is the successor of Ontario Hydro). The Wawatay hydro project was the first IPP hydro project in Canada to involve a First Nation community. Regional Power regards the Wawatay Project as a benchmark for future hydroelectric projects. The positive working relationships established during this project with Ontario Hydro, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ojibways of the Pic River.

Technical – An intake structure was constructed upstream of the existing control dam to efficiently direct flow to a combined 625 meter tunnel and penstock. A trifurcation in the penstock occurs to convey water to three horizontal Francis turbine / generator sets contained within the powerhouse structure. The water exits the turbines through a tailrace that was excavated from the river bank to channel water back to the natural river course.


  • 13.5 MW Capacity
  • Located on the Black River, near Marathon, Ontario
  • 48 m of hydraulic head
  • 35 cubic meters per second design flow
  • 625 meter tunnel and penstock
    • 450 meter unlined hard rock tunnel
    • 60 meter steel lined tunnel
    • 115 meter penstock

Spawning Channel – Fisheries Enhancement Program

The Wawatay development enhanced fish habitat by creating a spawning / nursery channel. Regional Power’s development philosophy behind the Wawatay hydroelectric project was to optimize the site’s hydraulic potential while enhancing the environment. To implement this philosophy, Regional Power implemented a comprehensive examination and review of the hydrologic, hydraulic, geologic, topographic and environmental data to establish a detailed set of design guidelines:

  • Enhance fishery with some spawning and nursesry habitat that is consistently available from year to year.
  • Consider both spring and fall spawning species.
  • Keep the pool at the foot of the gorge fresh with a flow that would also maintian the aesthetic qualities of the gorge.

Regional Power, North Shore Environmental Services (NSES) and the Fish and Wildlife Branch of the District Ministry of Natural Resources created an area of net gain for the fishery within the development. This involved a tailrace that would give consistent spawning habitat for a target fishery that included salmon, rainbow trout, walleye and sturgeon. The Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans were consulted and were helpful in establishing the design criteria for the enhancement program.

Wawatay Powerhouse

The design of the Wawatay powerhouse adhered to the same criteria that were used as a bellwether throughout the development: one of sound technical, economic, environmental and aesthetic consideration. The design of the powerhouse resolved two primary technical concerns.

  • The first priority was to design and construct a secure building to house a significant investment in generation equipment.
  • The second was to provide a system of assembly that would reduce construction time in an area where climate can often be detrimental to project schedules.

The use of a pre-engineered building system consisting of structural steel components and insulated precast concrete wall panels provided solutions to these concerns. The economic benefits of such an assembly were twofold:

  1. minimal expenditures for maintenance upgrades, and
  2. minimization of cost overruns due to schedules difficulties.

As well, insulated wall panels eliminate virtually all evident sound generated from the equipment within the powerhouse.

In conception of the powerhouse, aesthetic considerations were very important.  The intention was to create a building that, like the rest of the development, blended harmoniously with the landscape. The precast panels were made with an aggregate common to the area, while the design of a high-pitched roof of a green hue is intended to reference a tradition of monumental Parks Canada buildings. To further enhance the visual aspects of the project, neighbouring grounds were landscaped with indigenous trees and plants.