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Vermont Dept. of Environmental Conservation Issues Decision on Water Levels at Waterbury Reservoir


posted at 11:45 am Thu Nov 6th, 2014 by (WherezIt_Staff)

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation issued a draft water quality certification decision today regarding the future operations of Green Mountain Power's Waterbury Hydroelectric Project.

Under this decision, the Waterbury Reservoir would be maintained at the current summertime level year-round to protect water quality and recreational use of the reservoir. Also, flows through the dam would be managed to more closely mirror the natural flow of the Little River in a manner that improves fish habitat and the ecological health of the river.

Green Mountain Power needs this water quality certification in order to obtain a federal operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Under the federal Clean Water Act, the Department's water quality certification must ensure that dam operations are conducted in a manner that protects fishing, swimming, boating and other recreational uses of both the Waterbury Reservoir and Little River. The Department must also ensure that the dam continues to serve its primary purpose of flood control.

In order to meet its obligations, the Department's draft decision would require Green Mountain Power to hold the reservoir water level at the summer recreational level throughout the year, but only after the existing flood control gates on the dam are replaced. The draft decision would also require Green Mountain Power to change the manner in which they release water through their turbines to reduce the significant fluctuations that currently harm fish and aquatic life downstream of the dam. To address concerns about the effects of the new water level management regime on dam safety, the Department has committed to initiating discussions with the US Army Corps of Engineers to enter into an agreement for the Corps to conduct a dam safety assessment as part of the gate and spillway replacement project. The Department determined that the winter drawdown should not be eliminated until the Corps determines that the spillway and gates can be safely operated.

"Waterbury Reservoir and the Little River are part of an area of Vermont that is widely used and loved by many thousands of Vermonters," said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears. "We have worked hard to develop a water quality certification that meets our obligations to protect water quality, continues to allow Green Mountain Power to generate clean, renewable energy, and ensures that the dam will continue to provide downstream communities with critical protection against flood damage."

A public meeting will be held to hear comments on the decision on Saturday, December 6, 2014 from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. at the Crossett Brook Middle School, 5672 Vermont 100, Waterbury, Vermont. The Department will accept written comments until 4:30 P.M. on December 6, 2014.

Copies of the decision and information regarding submitting written comments can be found on the Department of Environmental Conservation's website: (http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/). For additional information, contact Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears at (802) 828-1556.

Relevant Address(es):
Montpelier, VT 05602 (Set as Local)
Waterbury, VT 05676 (Set as Local)

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