LIHI Certificate #159 – Macomb Project, New York

The Macomb Project is the most downstream hydroelectric project on the Salmon River in the Town of Malone in Franklin County, New York. From its headwaters in the Adirondack Mountains, the Salmon River flows approximately 50 miles northwest to its confluence with the St. Lawrence River near Dundee, Quebec. The Project was originally constructed in 1899 for the sole purpose of energy production. A second powerhouse was built in 1904 (High Falls No. 2) upstream of the original powerhouse which was subsequently retired in 1940. Several improvements were made between 1940 and 1987. There are several other dams on the Salmon River including the Mountain View Project, Chasm Project (LIHI #158), Ballard Mill, and Whittelsey Project, all upstream of Macomb.

The project includes: a dam, integrated spillway, penstock, two intake structures, powerhouse, draft tube, and one turbine.

The dam is a concrete gravity overflow-type, 106 feet long and 32 feet high. Two stone intake structures are capped with concrete, one located at each end of the dam, positioned 90 degrees to the spillway. The intake structure on the right bank of the river (looking downstream) consists of a manually-operated steel slide gate at the upstream end of a 6-foot-diameter pipe that discharges immediately downstream of the dam. The 38-foot-long, 25-foot-high intake structure along the left bank of the river has a manually-operated steel slide gate. When open, flow passes through the gate to a 6.5-foot-diameter, 60-foot-long gated riveted steel penstock that leads to the powerhouse. The water intake has trashracks with 1-inch clear spacing on a year-round basis. The powerhouse contains a single horizontal Francis unit with an installed capacity of 1.0 MW. The intake and penstock create a short bypassed reach, approximately 100 feet long.

Project Name Macomb
LIHI Certificate No. 159
LIHI Certificate Term April 26, 2019 - April 25, 2024
Owner Brookfield Renewable Energy Group
State New York
Location River Mile 17.3 on the Salmon River
Installed Capacity 1.0 MW
Average Annual Generation 6,200 MWh
Facility Type Run of river
FERC No. P-7321 issued 2006, expires 2041

The project impounds a 14-acre impoundment known as Lamica Lake. The project is operated in a pulsing mode when river flow exceeds 125 cfs. Efforts are made to maintain impoundment fluctuations within 0.25‐foot of the dam crest. The project operates in run‐of‐river mode when river flows are 125 cfs or less. This flow regime was developed in consultation with USFWS and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

Waters in the project reach are designated as Class C waters best used for fishing, fish propagation, and primary/secondary recreation where appropriate. The project operates under a sediment management plan which aims to minimize the potential for sediment releases that could impact habitat and populations downstream.

The project is located at the site of a natural falls that has historically created a hydraulic barrier, preventing anadromous fish from passing by the project. Though the Salmon River once supported freshwater runs of walleye, muskellunge, and northern pike, the present fish community in Lamica Lake consists of warm-water fish species such as bass and bullhead, as well as brown and rainbow trout, present via stocking. The US Department of the Interior has no plans for a fish passage prescription for the project. Trashracks with 1-inch spacing prevent entrainment and a fish stocking tube allows the NYSDEC to stock trout directly into the tailrace.

The project lands consist of roughly 9 acres. Land uses in the project vicinity are primarily low density residential, commercial, recreation, agriculture, and forestry. The impoundment fluctuation limit of 0.25 feet helps to minimize erosion potential and protect wetland, riparian, and littoral habitat in the project vicinity. The project also conducts sediment flushing procedures when inflows exceed 700 cfs at the upstream Chasm Project.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Northern long-eared bat. Based on consultation with the NYSDEC’s Natural Heritage Program, there are no critical habitats or records of listed species in the project area. Operations at the project must comply with the USFWS 4(d) rule concerning the protection of the northern long-eared bat which restricts tree clearing activities from June1 - July 31.

Historic properties in the project area include the High Falls No.1 powerhouse ruins as well as the project dam, powerhouse, gatehouse, and intakes. The project owner collaborated with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to develop mitigation measures to ensure cultural and historic resources were properly preserved. Impoundment fluctuation limits help mitigate any impacts and the project submits annual reports to the SHPO on any activities pertinent to resource stewardship.

Recreational resources in the project area include a car-top boat launch, a downstream angler access trail, shoreline fishing area, and a recreational trail. Public access is provided free of charge.


Certification History

September 4, 2019: The decision to certify the Macomb Hydroelectric Project is final. No appeals were received during the appeal period which closed on August 22, 2019. The certification term for the Project is from April 26, 2019 through April 25, 2024.

July 22, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Macomb Hydroelectric Project.

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 “Macomb Hydroelectric 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 22, 2019.  The full application and reviewers report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project (pending LIHI #159) will be April 26, 2019 for a term of five (5) years, which will expire on April 25, 2024.

April 30, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Macomb 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 “Macomb 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 April 20, 2019 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.