LIHI Certification enhances economic viability for clean, renewable generation while also supporting reinvestment in the protection of local river ecosystems. Certified Low Impact hydropower projects (facilities) meet eight specific science-based environmental, cultural and recreational criteria established by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) as listed below.
1) Ecological flow regimes that support healthy habitats
Goal: Flow regimes in riverine reaches that are affected by the facility support habitat and other conditions are suitable for healthy fish and wildlife resources
2) Water Quality supportive of fish and wildlife resources and human use
Goal: Water quality protected in water bodies directly affected by the facility, including downstream reaches, bypassed reaches, and impoundments above dams and diversions
3) Safe, timely and effective upstream fish passage
Goal: Safe, timely and effective upstream passage of migratory fish so that the migratory species can successfully complete their life cycles and maintain healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife resources in areas affected by the facility.
4) Safe, timely and effective downstream fish passage
Goal: Safe, timely and effective downstream passage of migratory fish. For riverine (resident) fish, the facility minimizes loss of fish from reservoirs and upstream river reaches affected by facility operations. All migratory species can successfully complete their life cycles and to maintain healthy, sustainable fish and wildlife resources in the areas affected by the facility.
5) Protection, mitigation and enhancement of the soils, vegetation, and ecosystem functions in the watershed
Goal: Sufficient action taken to protect, mitigate and enhance the condition of soils, vegetation and ecosystem functions on shoreline and watershed lands associated with the facility.
6) Protection of threatened and endangered species
Goal: The facility does not negatively impact listed species. Facilities shall not have caused or contributed in a demonstrable way to the extirpation of a listed species. However, a facility that is making significant efforts to reintroduce an extirpated species may pass this criterion.
7) Protection of impacts on cultural and historic resources
Goal: The facility does not inappropriately impact cultural or historic resources that are associated with the facility’s lands and waters, including resources important to local indigenous populations, such as Native Americans.
8) Recreation access is provided without fee or charge
Goal: Recreation activities on lands and waters controlled by the facility are accommodated and facility provides recreational access to its associated land and waters without fee or charge.
Most criteria can be satisfied by meeting the latest and most stringent science-based recommendation of the relevant state or federal resource agencies mandated to protect the criterion’s resource. However, a set of alternative standards are available to demonstrate that the criterion goal is met.