UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION
Grafton Hydro, LLC
FERC Project number P-14718
Mascoma Lake Dam
MOTION TO INTERVENE AND STATEMENT OF CONCERN
OF THE CONNECTICUT RIVER WATERSHED COUNCIL, THE MASCOMA RIVER LOCAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE, AND THE GREATER UPPER VALLEY CHAPTER OF TROUT UNLIMITED IN THE ABOVE APPLICATION.
Statement of Interests
The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRC), the Mascoma River Local Advisory Committee, and the Greater Upper Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited request to intervene in the above referenced matter on behalf of their members and member communities.
The Connecticut River and its tributaries are a resource that defines this region of Vermont and New Hampshire. The Mascoma River is an outstanding community resource for the City of Lebanon and Towns of Enfield and Canaan in western New Hampshire. The river connects the hearts of the three communities, flowing through villages and downtown areas before entering the Connecticut River in West Lebanon.
The Connecticut River watershed provides water-related recreational opportunities for swimming, boating and fishing, as well as drawing both residents and tourists who enjoy walking, bicycling, hiking, camping, and nature observation. The Mascoma River is an important contributor to these values of the main Connecticut River.
The interests and goals represented by the groups 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 archaeological, cultural, and historical resources.
Description of CRC
The Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc. is a nonprofit membership citizen group established in 1952 to advocate for the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of the Connecticut River and its tributaries that make up its four-state watershed. Mascoma Lake Dam and Mascoma River hydroelectric facilities directly affect CRC members and they are concerned about the area of the Connecticut River affected by the presence and operation of these facilities.
Description of MRLAC
The Mascoma River Local Advisory Committee (MRLAC) is a volunteer group of citizen representatives from the City of Lebanon, Town of Enfield, and Town of Canaan, NH. As authorized by New Hampshire RSA 483, we develop and implement a River Corridor Management Plan so that the outstanding qualities of the river may be better managed and protected now and into the future.
MRLAC members are local citizens interested in the river. The three towns nominate members and the Commissioner for NH Department of Environmental Services appoints them to a three year term.
Description of GUVTU
The Greater Upper Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited (GUVTU) is a membership-based charitable organization covering a wide geographic area of Vermont and New Hampshire. Our 300+ members in Vermont and New Hampshire work to protect, reconnect, restore, and sustain coldwater fisheries and their watersheds within our region for this and future generations. The Mascoma River is a fishery of note in the region due to its special recognition and regulation by NH Fish and Game.
Statement of Positions
Both Developments 1 and 2
Both phases of the proposed project affect the whitewater/paddling community in our area. The Mascoma Slalom race, run every year since 1963 is the oldest consecutively run slalom race in the country. It takes place on this stretch of the Mascoma River. The event draws a wide variety of competitors from all over the country, bringing valuable tourist dollars into the Upper Valley. In addition to the race, both whitewater & recreational paddlers use this scenic section of the river. The dam as proposed will affect both the Class IIIII section of whitewater between the dams, and may restrict outflow from the lower dam such that the Class IV section would cease to exist.
Development Number 1: New dam and powerhouse in downtown Lebanon
The groups are concerned about the negative effect this development will have on the habitat in this reach of the Mascoma River.
Those impacts include the dewatering of the bypass reach of the river between the dam and the powerhouse. If the applicant developed the scenario outlined in the application, there would be a reach of river with potentially reduced or non-existent water flow. There should be a complete on the ground study to establish some minimum flow sufficient to protect the fishery and other aquatic habitat. Short of an independent study at this site, the default USF&W Service standard is .5 cfs per square mile of watershed. That standard should apply in this case unless a well-designed study proves otherwise.
Sediment will build up behind the new dam. The sediment will for some distance up river from the dam, eliminate healthy stream bottom habitat
There is an existing dam below the proposed Development 1 site. It relies on a critical cfs rate to generate its own power. As there is no mention of flow rates from the proposed dam in this permit application, owners of the dam below the site are concerned about their ability to continue to generate electricity both during construction, as well as after completion of the proposed dam.
There are many small dams littering our rivers. They no longer serve an active function but still harm the river ecosystem. The usual case is that the project owner no longer invests in equipment and facility maintenance over time and eventually the cost of retrofitting the facility is too great and the owner abandons it, leaving it to do nothing but damage to the river.
Development Number 2: installing power station at Mascoma Lake Dam
The Mascoma River immediately below the Mascoma Lake Dam has special fishing regulations allowing for the use of flyfishing gear only with a creel limit of two fish. This reach of river begins immediately down from the face of the Mascoma Lake dam reaching from the RT 4 Bridge over the river downstream to the Packard Hill covered bridge. In order to protect the fishery, proper erosion prevention during construction at the dam is of concern.
There will be fluctuations of flows through the powerhouse that could be of sufficient increase in cfs to cause concern for safety of fishers in the river. Since much of the river channel through this reach of river has steep and difficult to climb sides so a rapid rise of river water could be of concern to anyone fishing there, and as a destination fishery there is a constant presence of fishers.
Since there is no information about the type of releases through the powerhouse, there should be some consideration of a minimum flow coming through the dam at all times to protect fish and other aquatic species from desiccation. There should be consideration of the ramping rates. The rate of up and down water flows need to be evaluated for safety as noted above and to prevent stranding of aquatic species.
This section of river is a valuable resource for the fishing community. The state of NH stocks trout in this section of the river including Mascoma Lake, as well as several tributary streams, ponds, & lakes of the Mascoma River. A top release dam such as the one proposed here would spill only the warmest of the lake’s water over the top of the dam to the detriment of the trout on the stretch below the dam.
There is also concern that changes made to the Mascoma Lake dam as proposed would affect the depth of the lake, causing changes to the shoreline, and negatively impacting property values around the lake. It is also unknown at this time how changes in flow rates from the Mascoma lake dam will affect those with riverfront properties between the two dams.
Recommendations for study and or license conditions
- Before any studies are design or implemented the applicant should consult with at least the Greater Upper Valley Trout Unlimited chapter, the Mascoma River Local River Advisory Committee, the owner of the existing dam and Connecticut River Watershed Council.
- FERC should require the applicant to study establishing a run of river development at the Development 1 site with no impoundment associated with the development.
- If the applicant plans to build a dam at Development 1, the applicant should be required to conduct studies of the fisheries impact, the loss of aquatic habitat, the loss of the streamside wildlife corridor, and sediment impacts behind the dam.
- Since a sufficient flow of water through the bypass reach in Development 1is essential to protect the fishery, FERC should require studies to establish a bypass flow that protects the habitat for all aquatic species.
- How to devise a warning system to protect fishers from any possible harm from rapidly increasing flows down river of the Development 2 powerhouse should be included in any FERC study requirements.
- FERC should require the applicant to contribute some portion of the income that the developments realize to a decommissioning fund to remove both Development 1 and 2 if they do not generate power for some extended period as a license condition.
- FERC should require mitigation for the sediment impacts of the new dam in the Mascoma River through contributing some portion of the proceeds from the sale of power to river improvements.
- FERC should require any studies necessary to establish the effects of the proposed Development 1 at the Mascoma Lake dam has on the depth of the lake, changes to the shoreline elevation, and any impact on property values around the lake.
- The designs for both developments should specifically include designs for the highest protection against sediment release during construction.
For the reasons stated above, CRC, MRLAC and GUVTU respectfully request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission grant this Motion to Intervene in the Mascoma Lake Dam Project FERC P-14718 and provide party status to all three groups in this proceeding.
DATED this 2nd day of January 2016
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that I have this day served the foregoing document, the Motion to Intervene for Project No. P-14718 Mascoma Lake Dam Project, submitted by the Connecticut River Watershed Council, upon each person designated on the attached service list.
DATED this 2nd day of January 2016
David L. Deen River Steward
Connecticut River Watershed Council
Bill Chabot Chair
Mascoma River LAC
Ken Grecsek Chapter President
Greater Upper Valley Trout Unlimited
Grafton Hydro, LLC
55 Union Street, 4th Floor
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
New England District
696 Virginia Road
Concord MA 01742-2751
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
John Warner, Ecological Services
70 Commercial Street, Suite 300
Concord NH 03301-5087
CT River Atlantic Salmon Commission
103 East Plumtree Road
Sunderland MA 01375
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
New York Regional Office19 West 34th Street, Suite 400
New York, NY 10001
NH Dept. of Environmental Services
NHDES- Watershed Management Bureau
PO Box 95
Concord NH 03302-0095
NH Fish and Game Department
11 Hazen Drive
Concord NH 03301
Connecticut River Joint Commission
c/o Upper Valley Lake Sunapee RPC
30 Bank Street
Lebanon, NH 03766-1756
City of Lebanon
51 North Park Street
Lebanon, NH 03766
Town of Enfield
PO Box 373
Enfield NH 03748
Town of Canaan
P.O. Box 38 • 1169 US Route 4
Canaan, NH 03741