UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION
In re: Murphy Dam Hydroelectric Project, FERC P- 14670
MOTION TO INTERVENE (Out of Time)
AND COMMENTS OF THE
CONNECTICUT RIVER WATERSHED COUNCIL, INC.
IN THE ABOVE APPLICATION
I. Statement of Interest
The Connecticut River Watershed Council is a nonprofit membership organization that has an interest in protecting environmental values that directly and indirectly support the State, regional, and local economies and quality of life in the Project area and downstream.
CRC is filing an out of time request for intervener status in this proceeding because of our strong interest in insuring that this operation does nothing to harm the river. Our request will not delay the proceeding in any way.
The interests and goals represented by CRC include: improving water quality; enhancing habitat for fish and other aquatic biota; safeguarding and improving wildlife habitat; protecting threatened and endangered species; protecting wetlands; preserving undeveloped shore lands; enhancing public recreation and promoting recreational safety; protecting aesthetic values; protecting archeological, cultural, and historical resources; fostering sustainable economic development and preserving the local tax base; and maintaining the potential energy benefits of establishing a hydroelectric project on the Connecticut River.
II. Description of CRC
The Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc. (CRC) is a nonprofit membership citizen group that was established in 1952 to advocate for the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of the Connecticut River and its four-state watershed. CRC’s organizational mission is directly impacted by the presence and operation of the Murphy Dam hydro facility and CRC’s members use and are concerned about the area of the Upper Connecticut River affected by the presence and operation of the facility.
CRC members have an interest in all hydro facilities on the Connecticut River and its tributaries. CRC has intervened in licenses for the Holyoke Dam (P- 2004), Canaan Dam (P-7528), Fifteen Mile Falls Dams (P-2077), and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage project (P-2485). CRC was an Intervener in TransCanada’s purchase of hydroelectric projects on the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers in 2005. CRC is an active participant in the current relicensing of the Wilder (P-1892), Bellows Falls (P-1855) and Vernon (P-1904) Projects owned by TransCanada and Turners Fall (P-1889) owned by First Light.
Comments by CRC
Fish and Wildlife Resources
The preliminary application references completed studies in the hydrological and environmental areas prepared as part of the last application to FERC for this site and would use them in their consultations with stakeholders. As a party to the past proceeding, there were no hydrological or environmental studies submitted formally to FERC, in fact there were no consultation meetings other than two phone conversations with the applicant’s consultant. CRC was supportive of the aquatic impact studies proposed in the previous preliminary application P-13422, which the applicant withdrew.
That said CRC feels the applicant under P-14670 should investigate the fish and wildlife resources affected by the construction and operations of this new plan and would hope to be part of designing or at least commenting on the study plan. CRC recommends that surveys for threatened and endangered species should also be conducted as part of the impact studies.
CRC feels that the applicant should consult with resource agencies, interested citizens, and citizen groups. The applicant should consult with stakeholders after the studies are completed and prior to formal application submission so they can provide their recommendations on measures needed to mitigate any adverse impacts to fish and wildlife resources as part of the formal application.
Of particular concern are the impacts of existing and proposed project operations on aquatic resources in the impoundment and in the Connecticut River downstream from Murphy Dam. The supplemental agreement signed as part of the Fifteen Mile Falls Settlement Agreement and FERC license P-2077 controls the flow regime at Murphy Dam. Any power releases should be required to meet those restrictions on flow and lake levels.
River levels should not fluctuate at rates that can trap fish in dewatered pockets when river flows are dropping. The rate of flow fluctuations should be managed so there is minimal impact on aquatic habitat in the Connecticut River.
Fish from Lake Francis pass to the river downstream from the dam where the fish contribute to the recreational fishery and spawn naturally. An alternate route of safe passage other than passage through the turbines should be part of the project design.
The project should monitor the river below the dam to see if any of the changed release rates increase erosion on the shore from the point of release downstream to Indian Stream. Much of the land near the river in the reach of river downstream is easily erodible alluvial soil according to the soil maps developed by the Connecticut River Joint Commissions and changing flows might create problems where none now exists. Excess sediment could damage spawning habitat in the river below the release.
There is a pathway below the face of Murphy Dam used by anglers leading to the reach of river below the dam. The project construction should be planned in such a way that access to the reach of river immediately below Murphy Dam remains usable during construction and when the project is completed and operating.
Fast rising water could be a threat to the safety of the fishers who frequent the reach of river below the dam. This reach of river is a refuge for brook trout because of the cool water released at the dam and those who know about this reach do fish it on a regular basis. The project should have a warning system when there is an upward change in flow rates.
There are few locations where anyone can launch a canoe, kayak or drift boat in tht immediate reach of the river. The project applicant as part of the required recreation plan should talk with boating interests as part of developing their recreation plan.
Service and Communication
Service of process and all other communications concerning the above-referenced project should be made to:
David L. Deen River Steward
Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc.
PO Box 206
Saxtons River, VT 05154
For the reasons stated above, CRC respectfully requests that the Commission grant this Motion to Intervene out of time.
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that I have this day served the foregoing document electronically, the Motion to Intervene for the Murphy Dam Hydroelectric project P-14670, submitted by the Connecticut River Watershed Council, upon each person designated on the attached service list.
Dated this 21st day of July 2015.
1401 Walnut Street Suite 220
Boulder, CO 80302
NH Fish and Game Department
629 B Main St.
Lancaster, NH 03584
US Fish and Wildlife Service
70 Commercial Street Suite 300
Concord, NH 03301-5087
Connecticut River Joint Commissions
c/o Pat Crocker
Upper Valley Lake Sunapee
Regional Planning Commission
10 Water Street, Suite 225
Lebanon, NH 03766