LIHI Certificate #129 – North Gorham Project, Maine

The North Gorham Project is located on the Presumpscot River in Gorham, Standish, and Windham Maine. The project commenced initial commercial operations in 1925. There are eight dams on the Presumpscot River: the Eel Weir Dam, North Gorham Dam, Dundee Dam, Gambo Dam, Little Falls Dam, Mallison Dam, Sacarappa Dam, and Cumberland Mills Dam.

The project includes a stone masonry and concrete dam about 1,009 feet long, four 8-foot diameter steel penstocks extending approximately 50 – 70 feet downstream, two surge chambers, and a brick powerhouse contained two turbines connected to two generating units with a total installed capacity of 2.25 MW.

The dam includes a non-overflow masonry wall section about 600 feet long, from west to east, an intake section about 51.5 feet long and 28 feet high with four gates 9.5 feet wide by 9.5 feet high, protected by trashracks with 1.25-inch clear spacing, a sluice gate section about 47 feet long with four submerged sliding gates 4 feet wide by 5 feet high, a spillway section about 256.5 feet long, a sluice section about 15.5 feet long, and a cutoff wall section about 38 feet long. The maximum height of the dam is approximately 24 feet.

The project operates in a run-of-river mode and impounds a 98-acre reservoir. The project provides a minimum flow of 222 cfs, or inflow, whichever is less, and impoundment fluctuations are limited to 1-foot from the normal water surface elevation. The flow regime was approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) and FERC.

Waters within the project reach are designated a Class A with no impaired waters in the project area as detailed in MDEP’s 2012 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. Consultation with MDEP also confirmed that the project is meeting Class A water quality standards in the reach.

Project Name North Gorham
LIHI Certificate No. 129
LIHI Certificate Term April 27, 2016 - April 27, 2021, extended to December 31, 2021
Owner Brookfield White Pine Hydro, LLC
State Maine
Location Located at river mile 23.6 on the Presumpscot River in Gorham, Standish, and Windham, Maine.
Installed Capacity 2.25 MW
Average Annual Generation 10,403 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-2519 issued 1993, expires 2034

The Presumpscot River has historically supported migratory runs of Atlantic salmon, American shad, and alewife though the presence of downstream dams has prevented the migration of these species. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) stocks salmon and trout in the project area which subsequently require downstream passage facilities at the project. Passage is provided via the sluice gates and a plunge pool. The project owner files annual operations and maintenance reports for downstream fish passage with resource agencies including USFWS, Maine Department of Marine Resources, MDIFW, and MDEP, all of which found no issues with the facility. Upstream passage has not been prescribed by agencies, but they reserve their right to require such passage in the future.

The project property consists of roughly 2 acres. There are no lands of significant ecological value in the project reach due to the small footprint of the project. The shoreline is forested and mixed-use developed.

Threatened and endangered species potentially within the project property include: Northern long-eared bat, small whorled pogonia, and brook floater mussel. The project owner consulted with MDIFW and USFWS to determine any impacts the project may have on listed species. Critical habitats for the listed species are unlikely to found in the small footprint of the project. Run-of-river operations help mitigate any impact on the brook floater mussel. To ensure that no impacts on Northern long-eared bat and small whorled pogonia occur, consultation with USFWS and a field survey must occur before construction activities are undertaken at the project site.

A Programmatic Agreement (PA) was signed involving FERC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Maine State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) to address 10 hydropower projects under the same ownership, including North Gorham. The PA provides measures to protect cultural artifacts, including the Great Falls archaeological site. The PA was satisfied for the project in 1995 and confirmed through consultation with the SHPO.

Recreational resources at the project include fishing access, a picnic area, a boat ramp, and a swimming area. Public access is provided free of charge where safe.


Certification History

October 14, 2021: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has received a complete recertification application from Brookfield White Pine Hydro for the North Gorham Project located on the Presumpscot River in Maine.

LIHI is seeking comment on this application. 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 LIHI by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with "North Gorham Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Office 407, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on December 13, 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.

The project description and complete application can be found below.

November 22, 2016 – LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has issued a Preliminary Certification Decision that the North Gorham Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-2519) satisfies the LIHI Certification Criteria.  This Preliminary Certification Decision includes two facility-specific conditions, as follows:

  • Partially Satisfied 2021 Condition 1; Within 90 days of LIHI certification, the Owner shall proactively initiate discussions with MDMR and USFWS regarding future construction of an upstream fish passage facility for American eel at the site and implementation of appropriate measures to facilitate safe downstream passage for American eel. The siting and design work on the upstream passage structures shall be initiated within the first two years of LIHI certification; construction and operation shall be completed as soon as practicable, but no later than the end of the five-year LIHI certification period. The facility shall be designed, sited, and constructed in consultation with and approval from the MDMR and USFWS. Within three years of the issuance of this certification, the downstream passage measures timeline shall be established in agreement with the resource agencies and a formal commitment for installation at a future date shall be made. If additional time is needed to accommodate required design activities, regulatory approval, or other extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the Owner, an extension may be requested (extension requested and granted December 18, 2019). The Owner shall provide LIHI with an annual report on the status of these actions, along with the plan, schedule and status of new fish passage implementation, as part of their annual compliance statement.
  • Condition 2: The Owner shall proactively contact the MIF&W and USFWS a minimum of 60 days prior to any construction activities affecting lands not already developed or structures that may provide roosting habitat for the Northern Long-eared Bat, to determine if any special measures are needed to ensure no or minimal impact occurs to state and/or federally listed protected species identified as possibly occurring at the site. The MIF&W shall also be contacted within 60 days prior to any planned drawdown of the impoundment that would expose a significant portion of the river bottom, to avoid impacts to the Brook Floater. The Owner shall work with the MIF&W and USFWS to implement appropriate measures should they be needed. The Owner shall advise LIHI of any such events, including the results of any activities conducted to minimize such impacts. Such notification shall be provided as part of the annual compliance statement to LIHI.

As provided for in Section 4.2.5 of the LIHI 2nd Edition, the Preliminary Certification Decision to certify, along with the Application Reviewer’s report and (if prepared) report of the Executive Director, will be posted on the Institute’s Web page for 30 days.  Notice of the posting will be provided to all individuals or organizations that commented on the initial Application Package.

Any Commenter may submit a letter to the Executive Director requesting an appeal within the 30-day period.  The appeal request must state specific reasons why the hydropower facility should have failed one or more criteria.  If an individual or organization did not comment on the initial Application Package, they may not file an appeal.

If no appeal is requested within the 30-day period, the Executive Director will issue LIHI Certification for the facility and post a notification of certification on the Institute’s website.  Once final, the effective certification date for the North Gorham Project is April 27, 2016 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on April 27, 2021.

August 5, 2016 – On April 27, 2016, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) received a complete application from Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC  for the Low Impact Certification of the North Gorham Project, FERC P-2519, located on the Presumpscot River, 19.5 miles from head-of-tide at Smilt Hill Project, in Maine.

LIHI is seeking public comment on this application.  Specifically, we are interested in knowing whether you think the North Gorham project continues to meet the LIHI Low Impact Certification Criteria.  Please review the program and criteria in LIHI’s revised Handbook and then review the Project’s 2015 application materials posted on the project page.  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 “North Gorham Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, PO Box 194, Harrington Park, New Jersey 07640.  Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on October 7, 2016 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.