Penobscot River Science Steering Committee
Dam Removal Permitting Procedures
Anticipated Penobscot River Hydroelectric Dam Removal Permitting Procedures
1. Once the option is exercised, Penobscot River Restoration Trust must file (a) an application for transfer of the FERC license from PPL to the Trust; and (b) a License Surrender Application to FERC. The license surrender application will include information compiled by the applicant documenting the “existing environment,” and provide information on any changes or impacts to resources, including the following:
- Water Resources
- Fisheries Resources
- Botanical/Wetland Resources
- Cultural and Historic Resources
- Land Management and Aesthetics
- Recreation Resources
The most recent dam removal projects at FERC licensed dams in Maine are the Fort Halifax Dam and the Sandy River Dam1. Click here to view a copy of the Fort Halifax surrender application (pdf).
After receiving the applications, FERC will prepare a draft Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement to satisfy requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It will address each of the areas outlined above. There will be several opportunities for public input, and considerable review by state and federal agencies. A final EA or EIS will be prepared after public comment and agency review. Click here to view the EA for the Fort Halifax Dam (pdf).
2. A Clean Water Act Section 404 dredge and fill permit and a Rivers and Harbors Act Section 10 permit are required from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Note: Both of the Federal permits discussed above will trigger consultation under other federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.
Removal of hydropower generating or storage dams needs a permit under the Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act, "the state’s one-stop hydropower permitting statute." View the statute here (pdf). Approval criteria include (a) making adequate provisions for financial capability and technical capability, public safety and traffic movement, and for mitigating adverse environmental impacts, (b) assuring that water quality standards will be met, and (c) weighing the benefits and harm to wetlands, soil stability, fish and wildlife resources, historic and archaeological resources, public rights of access and use of surface waters, flooding, and power generation. Click here for the DEP’s Administrative Regulations for Hydropower Projects.
Dam removal is also subject to state water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The Trust will have to demonstrate that the project “will not result in significant harm to water quality or will not violate applicable water quality standards.”
Dam removal may be subject to local shoreland zoning ordinances and other town development/demolition standards and planning board approval, depending on local ordinances.
1 Both projects involved a single dam. The analysis for the Penobscot River Restoration Project will include changes at 3 dams on the state’s largest river.
Materials from the Barrier Removal Monitoring Workshop in June 2006
(Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment):
Infrastructure and Natural Resource Identification Study
(Woodlot Alternatives, Inc.) pdf document
HydroTerra Preliminary Survey
prepared for the Penobscot River Restoration Trust
Penobscot River Restoration Trust Information
Draft Monitoring Framework Vision
The comprehensive monitoring framework (12/27/07, as revised by Wilson, Schmitt, Royte) is available for comment. The framework was drafted from the following submitted sections:
Committee Contact Information
Excel file of committee members and contact info.