FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 7, 2013
Greenfield, MA – March 1st marked a major deadline for public comments on five hydroelectric facilities on the Connecticut River seeking renewal of their operating licenses. The Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRC) submitted over 100 pages of comments and study requests to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for additional information needed to make sound decisions about license renewal. New licenses will be virtually unalterable for the next 30 to 50 years and affect 175 miles of the Connecticut River.
CRC’s comments focus on improvements to the ecological health of the river and recreational opportunities for the public.
- Recreational and educational opportunities must continue to be provided including: improved fishing and boating access, walkable portage facilities, more and better campsites, and migratory fish viewing facilities that support educational programs and are ADA accessible.
- Minimize riverbank erosion by moderating river flow and reservoir fluctuations. Studies should be conducted exploring the option of a closed-loop system at the Northfield Mountain Pump Storage Project in Massachusetts.
- Many more studies are needed to improve aquatic species habitat. Important factors to consider include: efficient and successful fish passage, minimum river flows to support fish habitat and spawning, and impacts of dams on American shad, American eel, dwarf wedgemussel, and endangered shortnose sturgeon.
- Studies should be conducted exploring the option of decommissioning one or more of the dams.
“The power companies have made a good start putting information forward,” explains CRC executive director Andrew Fisk. “But there is a tremendous amount of additional information that we all need in order to make good decisions about our river and our environment. It’s important to remember that this river belongs to all of us.”
The federal government will be making a decision on what additional studies will be required of the companies by July after releasing a draft document based on the information submitted to them this past week by many different organizations and individuals. CRC river stewards Andrea Donlon (MA) and David Deen (Upper Valley) are participating in the formal proceedings and are working to engage the public in the process.
The five hydro projects included in the 2018 relicensing are Wilder, Bellows Falls, and Vernon Dams in Vermont, Turners Falls Dam and Northfield Mountain Pump Storage Project in Massachusetts. These facilities account for over 30% of hydropower generation in New England.
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CONNECTICUT RIVER WATERSHED COUNCIL, INC.
15 Bank Row, Greenfield MA 01301
Phone: (413)772-2020 x. 205