LIHI Certificate #15 – Bowersock Mills Project, Kansas

The Bowersock Mills & Power Company (BMPC)’s Expanded Kansas River Hydropower Project is located on the Kansas River in the City of Lawrence in Douglas County, Kansas. The project was originally certified by LIHI as Cert No. 15, on October 27th, 2004 as the “Bowersock Project.” The original certified project was FERC-Exempt (P-2644). It had one powerhouse (South Powerhouse), manually-raised wooden flashboards, an authorized millpond maximum elevation of 812 NGVD, and a capacity of 2.35 MW.

BMPC had known for many years that the existing project under-utilized the historic Bowersock Dam, and had hoped to one day expand the project to maximize the electricity output from the existing dam structure. With this goal in mind, BMPC applied for a new FERC License as the Expanded Kansas River Hydropower Project which was granted in August, 2010. The new license granted permission for the replacement of the old spillway with a new powerhouse with four, vertical, fixed blade turbine generator sets with a capacity of 4.65 MW, and an increase in the approved millpond height from 812 NGVD to 813.5 NGVD. In a subsequent addendum to the license FERC granted approval for the replacement of the manually-raised, wooden flashboard system with a rubber dam. The expansion was initiated in June of 2011 and completed in December, 2012, resulting in a total project capacity of 7MW with an average estimated annual generation of approximately 33,000,00 kWh. The expanded project powerhouses occupy less square footage than the previous configuration (South Powerhouse and spillway), and is projected to produce approximately three times the kWh of the previous project in a median water flow year.

Project Name Bowersock Mills
LIHI Certificate No. 15
LIHI Certificate Term July 9, 2019 - July 8, 2024
Owner Bowersock Mills and Power Company
State Kansas
Location Located at river mile 52.4 on the Kansas River in the city of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas.
Installed Capacity 7 MW
Average Annual Generation 22,277 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-13526 issued 2010, expires 2060

The operations of the expanded project remain fundamentally the same as they were under the prior configuration. The project continues to operate as a run-of-river operation, passing all upstream flows through the project as they reach the project site. Under the previous configuration, the project could utilize a maximum of 2,300 cfs through energy generation, and passed all flows in excess of 2300 cfs through Obermeyer Gates, the wooden flashboard system and the spillway on the north side of the river. The expanded project has the capacity to utilize 4,600 cfs for energy generation, and passes all flows in excess of 4,600 cfs through two separate sets of Obermeyer Gates and the rubber dam system. The project storage is limited, with a total impoundment of 3,072 acre-feet, but a net effective impoundment of 2,758 acre-feet. The millpond is not intended to drop below 813.5 NGVD with the exception of infrequent, intentional drawdowns for project maintenance, but will often rise above that level due to natural flows which are significantly beyond the capacity of the project to handle. The median flow in the Kansas River at the Bowersock Dam is 3,400 cfs. In a typical year, flows in the Kansas River typically reach approximately 80,000 cfs at some point during the spring rains. At flows beyond 3,400 cfs, BMPC begins to lower the dam-top water retention structures, first lowering the Obermeyer Gate Systems to pass excess flows, and subsequently lowering the four sections of the rubber dam to pass flows. Please see Appendix E, the BMPC Project Operations Monitoring Plan – Rubber Dam Revision for details on flow management. At flows below 14,600 cfs, the Kansas River is still retained within the confines of the Kansas River channel, and the project continues to pass all upstream flows, either through the powerhouses for generation or through the Obermeyer Gate systems when flows exceed the cfs flow capacity of the generating units.

Certification History

August 3, 2020: The decision to recertify the Bowersock Mills Project became final after the close of the appeals period on August 1, 2020 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from July 9, 2019 – July 8, 2024.

July 2, 2020:  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Bowersock Mills Project for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification. The Certificate has no conditions.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Bowersock Mills Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on August 1, 2020. The full application and reviewer’s report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be July 9, 2019 through July 8, 2024.

April 27, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact recertification of the Bowersock Mills Hydroelectric Project.   The complete application can be found below.

LIHI is seeking public 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 the Institute by e-mail at comments@lowimpacthydro.org with “Bowersock Mills Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420.  Comments must be received on or before 5 pm Eastern time on June 26, 2020 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.

September 25, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has determined that the Bowersock Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 13526) continues to meet the LIHI Certification Criteria. The effective certification date for the Bowersock Project is July 9, 2014 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on July 9, 2019, with the following condition:

  • Satisfied in 2020. Condition 1. The facility owner shall provide LIHI with a brief report on the status and progress on the current recreational plan for the facility.  This summary report shall be due as part of the next annual Compliance report to LIHI.  If the progress on the recreational plan is deemed satisfactory at that time, this condition will be removed.

April 20, 2015:  On April 16, 2015 LIHI received a complete application from the Bowersock Mills and Power Company (BMPC) for an additional term of certification of the Bowersock Mills Hydroelectric facilities.  The application materials were delayed because the facilities underwent material changes, and BMPC required additional time to gather documentation and supportive materials.  The 2014 application is provided below.

January 27, 2010: It has been determined by LIHI’s Governing Board that the Bowersock Project continues to meet the Certification Criteria. The project has been recertified for a five year term, effective July 9, 2009 and expiring July 9, 2014.

October, 2004: The Bowersock Mills Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective July 27, 2004 and expiring July 27, 2009.