Quebec could raise as much as $9.5 billion a year by reversing the flow of three northern rivers to generate power and export water to the United States, according to a report made public yesterday.
The Montreal Economic Institute said Quebec could divert floodwaters from the three rivers in the spring, pumping the excess water higher, and then letting it flow south through the Ottawa River to the St. Lawrence.
The rivers - the Broadback, Waswanipi and Bell - currently flow into James Bay and then into Hudson Bay.
The report said that diverting the floodwater from north to south would boost levels on the St. Lawrence River and let U.S. and Canadian authorities increase their use of freshwater from the Great Lakes without any risk to St. Lawrence - a major international seaway.
"The revenue generated by exporting freshwater would be the result of complex negotiations between state, provincial and federal governments," said the report, compiled by former hydroelectric power engineer Pierre Gingras.