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The Black River and Beebee Island certification includes the Black River Project (FERC No. 2569) consisting of five hydroelectric developments along the Black River in Jefferson County, New York (Black River, Sewalls, Herrings, Kamargo, Deferiet) and the Beebee Island Project (FERC No. 2538).

Project Name Black River and Beebee Island
LIHI Certificate Number 34
LIHI Effective and
Expiration Dates
December 7, 2012
December 7, 2017
Owner Erie Boulevard Hydropower (subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group)
State New York
Location Six hydroelectric developments located along the Black River in Jefferson County, New York.
Installed Capacity Black River Project: 29.6 MW
Herrings Development: 5.4 MW
Deferiet Development: 10.8 MW
Kamargo Development: 5.4 MW
Black River Development: 6.0 MW
Sewalls Development: 2.0 MW
Beebee Island Project: 8.0 MW
Average Annual Generation Black River Project: 157.0 GWh
Herrings: 22.22 GWh
Deferiet: 63.03 GWh
Kamargo: 21.52 GWh
Black River: 38.57 GWh
Sewalls: 11.65 GWh
Beebee Island Project: 42.0 GWh
FERC No. Black River Project: 2569
Beebee Island: 2538

The Black River drainage basin is located in the north-central region of the state and has a total area of 1,876 square miles (at USGS gage located at Vanduzee Street). The Black River drains a portion of the western slope of the Adirondack Mountains and eastern and northern portions of the Tug Hill Plateau, and the river flows for 112 miles from its origin in the Adirondacks to its mouth at Lake Ontario. The river is divided into three general topographic reaches. The upper reach is mountainous and characterized by rapids and waterfalls. Below Lyons Falls (RM 73), the river enters a middle reach—the Black River Flats—that stretches 42 miles to the village of Carthage. Below Carthage, the river enters a lower reach, also characterized by rapids and falls as this reach drops 480 ft over 30 miles before entering Lake Ontario.

Three major storage reservoirs in the upstream drainage area are operated by the Board of the Hudson River/Black River Regulating District to provide storage of spring runoff, flood mitigation, and low-flow augmentation for the lower Black River. The Black River began providing hydroelectric power for pulp and paper mills and other industries during the mid-1800s. And while most of the mills and industries are no longer operating, 21 operating hydropower developments still line the Black River from river mile 92.0 to 1.5.

The five hydropower dams and powerhouses that comprise Erie’s Black River Project lie between the City of Watertown and west of the Village of Carthage. Progressing downstream from Carthage, these are the Herrings (RM 27.5), Deferiet (26.0), Kamargo (RM 17.0), Black River (RM 15.0), and Sewalls (RM 10.0) developments. These developments are all operated automatically to maintain impoundment levels within 0.5 foot below the dam crest or the top of flashboards and provide a continuous baseflow of not less than 1,000 cfs (or inflow) through the entire project.

 

 

 

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Black River Project

Herrings Development

The 140-acre Herrings reservoir is impounded by a 512-foot-wide by 25-foot-high, L-shaped concrete gravity dam. The dam has a crest elevation of 679.1 ft and is topped with seasonally-installed 1-foot-high wooden flashboards. The intake structure is integral with the powerhouse and consists of a 9-foot-wide stoplog waste sluice, an 11-foot-wide stoplog waste sluice downstream of the trashracks, and nine motor- operated slide gates. The intake structure is equipped with 2-inch clear-spaced trashracks with 1-inch clear-spaced seasonal trashracks in the top half of the water column.

The brick and masonry powerhouse contains three vertical Allis-Chalmers generating units, each rated at 1.8 MW. The units have a combined hydraulic capacity of 3,609 cfs. The units discharge to the Black River via a short excavated rock tailrace. Additional licensed works at the Herrings Development include transmission lines, a step-up transformer, and appurtenant facilities.

The Herrings Development does not have a true bypassed reach, but there is a 100-foot-long area between the foot of the angled dam and the powerhouse tailrace. A constant minimum flow of 20 cfs is released through the stoplog section located between the dam and trashracks.

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Powerhouse and dam at the Herrings Development

Deferiet Development

The dam at the Deferiet Developments consists of a 503-foot-long by 18-foot-high Ambursen dam section with a crest elevation of 656 feet and topped with a 3-foot-high pneumatic flashboard system. There is also a 192-foot-long sluice gate section with eleven stoplog bays and a 180-foot-wide concrete power canal headworks section with ten steel gates. The dam forms a reservoir with a surface area of 70 acres. A 4,200-foot-long canal connects the intake headworks with the powerhouse. The intake structure consists of three steel slide gates and an 11-foot-wide ice sluice controlled by stoplogs. The existing 3.5-inch clear-spaced trashracks were replaced in 2008 with 2-inch clear-spaced trashracks with 1-inch clear- spaced seasonal trashracks in the top half of the water column.

The powerhouse is adjacent to a now-idle paper mill, which was originally owned by St. Regis Paper Company and is currently being decommissioned. The industrial character of this portion of the development contrasts with the wooded surroundings of the dam and reservoir. The brick and masonry Deferiet powerhouse contains three vertical Francis generating units, each rated at 3.6 MW. The units have a combined hydraulic capacity of 3,441 cfs and discharge to a 1,400-foot-long excavated tailrace. Additional licensed works at the Deferiet Development include transmission lines, a step-up transformer, and appurtenant facilities.

The bypassed reach formed by the Deferiet Development is 1.6 miles long, with the lower 0.5 miles backwatered from riffles and a split channel complex around an island immediately downstream of the tailrace. A total minimum flow of 245 cfs is released at the dam at all times, and an additional 555 cfs is released during walleye spawning season.

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The Deferiet Dam

Kamargo Development

The main spillway sections of the dam at the Kamargo Development is a 647-foot-long by 12-foot-high concrete gravity section with a crest elevation of 561.8 feet and topped with seasonally-installed 2-foot- high wooden flashboards. The dam, which forms a reservoir with a surface area of 40 acres, also includes a 150-foot-long non-overflow section and a 131-foot-long power canal gated headworks structure. A 3,850-foot-long unlined canal leads to the 580-foot-long concrete forebay channel, which consists of a 190-foot-long concrete gravity overflow section, a 230-foot-long concrete gravity section topped with 1- foot-high wooden flashboards, and a 160-foot-long side channel spillway section equipped with twelve stoplog bays. The intake structure includes a waste sluice and nine timber gates with stoplog slots and is equipped with 2-inch clear-spaced trashracks with 1-inch clear-spaced seasonal trashracks in the top half of the water column.

The brick and masonry Kamargo powerhouse contains three vertical Francis generating units, each rated at 1.8 MW. The units have a combined hydraulic capacity of 3,300 cfs and discharge directly to the river via a short excavated tailrace. Additional licensed works at the Kamargo Development include transmission lines, a step-up transformer, and appurtenant facilities.

The bypassed reach formed by the Kamargo Development is 3,000 feet long. A minimum flow of 120 cfs (or inflow) is released through a notched section of the dam at all times.

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Kamargo Development

Black River Development

The 25-acre Black River Development reservoir is formed by a 327-foot-long by 16-foot-high horseshoe- shaped dam. The dam includes a concrete wall abutment, a 36.5-foot-long gated section housing two sluice gates with an abandoned substructure powerhouse and a 291-foot-long by 25-foot-high concrete gravity spillway with a crest elevation of 534 feet and topped with 2-foot-high wooden flashboards. An 80-foot-long concrete power canal headworks structure with thirteen timber slide gates leads to the 2,250- foot-long concrete-lined power canal with a side concrete waste weir. The intake structure consists of nine timber slide gates and is equipped with 2-inch clear-spaced trashracks with 1-inch clear-spaced seasonal trashracks in the top half of the water column.

The brick and masonry Black River powerhouse contains three vertical Francis generating units, each rated at 2 MW. The units have a combined hydraulic capacity of 3,201 cfs and discharge directly to the river via a short excavated tailrace. Additional licensed works at the Black River Development include transmission lines, a step-up transformer, and appurtenant facilities.

The bypassed reach formed by the Black River Development is 2,800 feet long. A minimum flow of 80 cfs (or inflow) is released through a notched section of the dam at all times, and an additional 220 cfs released at the dam during walleye spawning season.

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Map Showing the Black River Hydropower Development

Sewalls Development

The last two developments of the Black River Projects, the Sewalls and Beebee Island Developments, are located within the City of Watertown. The Sewalls Development formerly consisted of powerhouses and dams on each the south and north channel of Sewalls Island. The north channel facility is no longer used for power generation.

The south channel dam at the Sewalls Development is a 243-foot-long by 15.5-foot-high concrete gravity dam with a crest elevation of 463.9 feet and no flashboards. The Sewalls reservoir has a surface area of only 4 acres. A 65.5-foot-long gated power canal headworks structure with two stoplog bays and two steel slide gates leads to the 400-foot-long by approximately 34-foot-wide concrete-lined power canal. The wall of the canal is adjacent to the Black River, has a crest elevation of 463 feet and is topped with 2-foot-high flashboards. The intake structure includes a waste sluice, low-level drain, and four steel slide gates and is equipped with 2-inch clear-spaced trashracks.

The brick and masonry Sewalls powerhouse contains three vertical Allis-Chalmers propeller-type generating units, each rated at 1 MW. The units have a combined hydraulic capacity of 2,700 cfs and discharge directly to the river via a short excavated tailrace. Additional licensed works at the Sewalls Development include transmission lines, a step-up transformer, and appurtenant facilities.

Bypassed reaches exist in both the south and north channels around Sewalls Island. The Sewalls Island south channel bypass is only 400 feet long, and a minimum flow of 137 cfs is maintained in the south channel at all times. The north channel bypass consists of two large connected pools, one immediately downstream of the dam and one immediately upstream of Black Clawson dam. A minimum flow of 32 cfs is released into the north channel at all times.

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Downstream view of the Sewalls Development within the City of Watertown.

The Beebee Island Project is located at river mile 9 on the Black River in Jefferson County, NY and is licensed by FERC under Project No. 2538. The Beebee Island Project is operated automatically to maintain impoundment levels within 0.5 foot below the dam crest or the top of flashboards and provides a continuous baseflow of not less than 1,000 cfs (or inflow).

The Black River drainage basin is located in the north-central region of the state and has a total area of 1,876 square miles (at USGS gage located at Vanduzee Street). The Black River drains a portion of the western slope of the Adirondack Mountains and eastern and northern portions of the Tug Hill Plateau, and the river flows for 112 miles from its origin in the Adirondacks to its mouth at Lake Ontario. The river is divided into three general topographic reaches. The upper reach is mountainous and characterized by rapids and waterfalls. Below Lyons Falls (RM 73), the river enters a middle reach—the Black River Flats—that stretches 42 miles to the village of Carthage. Below Carthage, the river enters a lower reach, also characterized by rapids and falls as this reach drops 480 ft over 30 miles before entering Lake Ontario.

Three major storage reservoirs in the upstream drainage area are operated by the Board of the Hudson River/Black River Regulating District to provide storage of spring runoff, flood mitigation, and low-flow augmentation for the lower Black River. The Black River began providing hydroelectric power for pulp and paper mills and other industries during the mid-1800s. And while most of the mills and industries are no longer operating, 21 operating hydropower developments still line the Black River from river mile 92.0 to 1.5.

The dam at the Beebee Island Project is a 266-foot-long by 18-foot-high, U-shaped concrete gravity dam with a crest elevation of 428 feet and topped with seasonally-installed 3-foot-high wooden flashboards, and a 50-foot-long by 15-foot-high, concrete-capped stone auxiliary non-overflow dam. The Beebee Island reservoir has a surface area of 20 acres. The intake structure, which is integral with the powerhouse, is 82 feet long by 27 feet wide and includes four steel gates, a skimmer section, and stoplog slots. The intake structure is equipped with 2-inch clear-spaced trashracks with 1-inch clear-spaced seasonal trashracks in the top half of the water column. Ice and debris circumvent the powerhouse by way of an 8-foot-wide by 15-foot-high ice sluice between the steel gates and a retaining wall.

The brick and masonry Beebee Island powerhouse contains two vertical generating units, each rated at 4 MW. The units have a combined hydraulic capacity of 3,600 cfs and discharge directly at the base of the dam. Additional licensed works at the Beebee Island Development include primary transmission lines and appurtenant facilities.

The powerhouse and dam are on the north side of the island, so there is no bypassed reach in the north channel. A minimum flow of 14 cfs is released at all times to the 750-foot-long south channel bypass.

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Certification History

January 6, 2015: Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has determined that the Black River project continues to satisfy the Low Impact Certification program requirements.  A new certification term, effective December 7, 2012 and expiring 2017 has been issued, with the following non standard condition:

Based on the LIHI reviewer’s report on the recertification application and subsequent discussions with the applicant, several issues were identified regarding the short-term operation of hydraulic control structures, flashboards, and trashracks, where operational improvements can be made to stabilize downstream flows. While LIHI understands that the facility owner is working to make these improvements and to be more proactive in avoiding situations where downstream minimum flows cannot be maintained, more attention to these issues must be paid over the course of the next certification period. Therefore, the owner shall provide a letter report on annual river control operations, describing any and all events where downstream flows fell below minimums required, the cause of these events, and actions being taken by the owner to avoid such events in the future. This annual report will cover all operational issues in the past year with new pneumatic controls, flashboards, and trashracks, as well as any consultations with U.S. FWS and the NYSDEC regarding these issues. The report on river control operations shall be due at the same time as the annual compliance statement and payment of the annual certification fee. Based on LIHI’s review of this report, and at LIHI’s sole discretion, certification may be rescinded or modified.

January 16, 2013: Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P. has submitted an application for recertification of the Black River and the Beebee Island Projects. The current certificate expires on December 7, 2012.

March 27, 2008: The Black River Hydroelectric Projects have been certified as low impact for a term of five years, effective December 7, 2007 and expiring December 7, 2012.

December 7, 2007: Brookfield Power submitted an application for certification of the Black River and Beebee Island Projects. A public comment period on the application for certification will remain open for 60 days, closing February 7, 2008.


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