Complete Application Received - White River Project, Arkansas

April 27, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the White River Hydroelectric Project.  LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the Project meets the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria, as revised in the 2nd Edition Handbook.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s application materials below. Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered.  Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “White River Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on June 26, 2021 to be considered.  All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond.  Any response will also be posted.

White River Lock and Dam No. 1, Lock and Dam No. 2 and the “Shelby M. Knight” Lock and Dam No. 3 Hydroelectric Projects (LD1, LD2, LD3, or Projects) collectively known as the “White River Hydroelectric Project”, are located on the White River in Independence County (LD1 andLD2) and Stone County (LD3) in north central Arkansas. The Projects are located at existing and no longer used US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) locks and dams on the 722-mile-long White River.

The river begins in northwestern Arkansas in the Boston Mountains and flows east toward Fayetteville where it then turns north. The river enters Missouri near Eureka Springs. It then flows southeast back into Arkansas past Bull Shoals, Mountain Home, and Calico Rock. At Batesville, the second section of the river, known as the Lower White, begins. From Batesville, the river flows south for another 295 miles through the Arkansas Delta region before emptying into the Mississippi River. The White River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River and has a drainage basin of 27,765 square miles. The river passes multiple lakes created by eight USACE dams.

LD1 is located in Batesville, AR at river mile (RM) 299.2. LD2 is about 8 miles upstream at RM308.3, and LD3 is another 12 miles upstream at RM 320.2. The USACE Bull Shoals Dam is located approximately 99 miles upstream of LD3. Discharges from Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes as well as inflows from numerous tributaries control flows to the Projects. The LD1 Project is owned by the City of Batesville, and LD2 and LD3 are owned by Independence County, Arkansas. The Projects were originally licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) prior to the hydro facility construction on November 8, 1985 (LD2) and February 28, 1986 (LD1, LD3) for terms of 50 years which expire in 2035 and 2036, respectively.

Between 1900 and 1908, USACE built the three timber-crib and concrete dams and locks associated with the Projects. The locks were used for navigation, moving boats containing shipments of timber, cotton, and mining products such as limestone and silica. By the mid-1950s, trains had replaced boats as the primary method for transporting these products. USACE decommissioned the locks and sold the properties. The locks were decommissioned and have not operated since. The city of Batesville purchased LD1 for $1, and LD2 and LD3 were sold to private interests which also did not operate the locks. Those Projects were subsequently resold to the current owners. No maintenance occurred from the 1950s until 1997 when the county, through the hydro project, did extensive remedial work on LD1. Development of the new hydropower capacity involved a utility, a college, a city, a county, the U.S. Congress, 27 years, myriad engineers and lawyers, and lots of tenacity and perseverance by a dedicated group of individuals.

The Projects operate in run-of-river mode and do not use impoundment storage, with inflow dependent upon releases from the upstream USACE storage dams along with tributary inflows.

The LD3 Project includes a concrete and timber crib dam approximately 750 feet long and 21 feet high with a 3-foot-high concrete cap added in 2010. The dam creates an impoundment with approximately 610,242 acre-feet of storage capacity and a surface area of 787 acres. The powerhouse contains a single vertical Kaplan generating unit rated at 4.3 MW. An open-flume tailrace returns flow to the river 300 feet downstream of the dam. The Project boundary encompasses the high-water mark and about 42 acres of land around Project structures.

LD2 includes a concrete and timber crib dam approximately 658 feet long and 29 feet high with an integral navigation lock approximately 175 feet long and 36 feet wide on the right side of the dam. A multi-level intake flume, approximately 120 feet long and 100 feet wide is located within the lock structure. The dam creates an impoundment with approximately 8,581 acre-feet of storage capacity and a surface area of approximately 1,072 acres. The powerhouse contains a single vertical Kaplan generating unit with a capacity of 3.9 MW. An open flume tailrace, approximately 120 feet long conveys water back to the river. The Project boundary encompasses the high-water mark and about 10 acres of land around Project structures.

LD1 consists of a 660-foot-long, 27.6-foot-high dam that creates an impoundment with approximately 12,500 acre-feet of storage and a surface area of 773 acres. The powerhouse contains a single vertical Kaplan generating unit with a capacity of 4.3 MW. An open-flume tailrace conveys water back to the river about 280 feet downstream of the dam. The Project boundary encompasses the high-water mark and about 25 acres of land around Project structures.

Project Name White River
Owner Independence County, Arkansas
State Arkansas
Location

LD3: RM 320.2

LD2: RM 308.3

LD1: RM 299.2

White River
Installed Capacity 12.5 MW

LD3: 4.3 MW

LD2: 3.9 MW

LD1: 4.3 MW

Average Annual Generation 51,410 MWh

LD3: 18,764 MWh

LD2: 15,423 MWh

LD1: 17,222 MWh

Facility Type Run-of-River
FERC No.

LD3: P-4659, issued 02/28/1986, expires 01/31/2036.

LD2: P-4660, issued 11/08/1985, expires 10/31/2035.

LD1: P-4204, issued 02/28/1986 expires 01/31/2036.