LIHI Certificate #177 - Sherman Island Project, New York

The Sherman Island Project is located on the Hudson River in the towns of Moreau and Queensbury, New York. The project, originally built in 1923, is the downstream development that together with the upstream Spier Falls development make up the Hudson River Project. The project is the 12th dam upstream from the mouth of the Hudson River. The Feeder Dam Project (LIHI #164) and Glens Falls Project (LIHI #172) are located downstream.

Project works include a 1,533-foot-long buttressed and gravity dam with a maximum height of 38 feet at the spillway and 67 feet at the non-overflow section which includes pneumatic flashboards along a portion of the dam. There is a 4,000-foot-long bypassed reach between the dam and tailrace. Water is conveyed to the main powerhouse through an intake structure and canal with 15 penstocks. The main powerhouse contains five turbine generators with a combined capacity of 38.3 MW. A minimum flow powerhouse contains one 1.16-MW turbine generator. Water is conveyed to that powerhouse via a 200-foot-long penstock, constructed in 2008 to provide the base flow downstream of the project. Water is discharged into the headpond of the Feeder Dam Project.

The project operates in a peaking mode and impounds a 305-acre reservoir. Impoundment fluctuations are limited to one foot during walleye spawning (this season is water temperature driven) and two feet the remainder of the year. The project provides a minimum flow of 100 cfs in the North Channel and 150 cfs in the South Channel. These flows are increased during walleye spawning season with combined flows maintained at no less than 675 cfs. The minimum flow is released from new minimum flow unit downstream of the powerhouse. Flows were determined from instream flow incremental methodology (IFIM) techniques and are intended to enhance habitat conditions in the bypassed reach for walleye, smallmouth bass, and various forage species. The project operates under a stream flow and water level monitoring plan to ensure compliance with impoundment fluctuations and base flows.

Project Name Sherman Island
LIHI Certificate No. 177
LIHI Certificate Term July 10, 2020 - July 9, 2025
Owner Erie Boulevard Hydropower LP
State New York
Location River mile 209.3, Hudson River
Installed Capacity 39.46 MW
Average Annual Generation 167,813 MWh
Facility Type Peaking
FERC No. P-2482 issued in 2002, expires August 31, 2042

Waters within the project reach are designated as Class A in the impoundment and Class B in the bypassed and downstream reaches. Class A waters are suitable for drinking water supply and Class B waters support fish propagation and survival as well as primary and secondary recreation. The impoundment is listed as impaired for mercury contaminated sediment and the bypassed and downstream reaches are impaired for PCB contaminated sediment. Consultation with the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) concluded that the project is not adversely impacting water quality in the river reaches.

Downstream dams on the Hudson River do not have upstream passage and thus diadromous fish species are not present in the project area. The project river reach supports a naturally reproducing cold-water and warm-water fishery. The most abundant resident species include northern pike, brown trout, walleye, yellow perch, pumpkinseed, rainbow smelt, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and rock bass. The project owner annually contributes to the Fisheries Enhancement Fund which supports any fishery related projects throughout New York State that meet the following purposes: (1) stream habitat improvement; (2) handicapped fishing access;(3) heritage strain brook trout restoration; or (4) public fishing rights acquisition.

Downstream fish passage is facilitated via the ice sluice located adjacent to the main powerhouse as a route for downstream movement. The sluice provides a discharge of 25 cfs. Full trashrack overlays at the main powerhouse intake have maximum clear spacing of one inch to protect against fish entrainment. The intake of the minimum flow powerhouse is equipped with ¾-inch clear spaced trashracks. This passage facility was approved by NYSDEC and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The project lands consist of 265 acres. The impoundment and tailrace shorelines are steep, forested, and undeveloped. Land use in the project vicinity includes municipal water treatment, industrial, and residential uses. However, the area remains largely forested and undeveloped. Pine species are most prevalent. The project owner makes annual financial contributions to the Hudson/Sacandaga River Enhancement Fund which is used to fund projects, studies, or services providing ecosystem restoration or protection in the area. No lands of significant ecological value exist in the project area.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Karner blue butterfly, Indiana bat, bald eagle, and pygmy snaketail dragonfly. Consultation with USFWS concluded that the Indiana bat may be found in the project vicinity but no critical habitat (caves and mines) for the species is found nearby. The Karner blue butterfly and the blue lupine, the species only known larval food plant, have not been observed in the project area. The project impoundment recreation area is closed during the winter which prevents human access to the upper impoundment, providing protection for bald eagle wintering habitat. No formal recovery plans have been issued by NYSDEC for the pygmy snaketail dragonfly, a state species of concern.

No cultural or historic resources have been identified in the project area though the project operates under a cultural properties management plan. The plan provides provisions for protecting the characteristics of the project that could potentially have cultural significance or make it eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The project owner submits annual monitoring reports to the State Historic Preservation Office detain activities undertaken that may concern potential cultural resources.

Recreational resources at the project include a boat launch, picnic area, water access trail, canoe portage, campsites, and angler access. Public access is provided free of charge where safety and private property do not preclude access.


Certification History

December 21, 2020: The decision to certify the Sherman Island Project became final after the close of the appeals period on December 19, 2020 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from July 10, 2020 – July 9, 2025.

November 19, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification (pending LIHI #177) for the Sherman Island Hydroelectric Project located on the Hudson River in New York.

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 “Sherman Island Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute,1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington MA 02476. 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 December 19, 2020.

The full application and review report are available below. If no appeal requests are received the certification term will be July 10, 2020 through July 9, 2025.

August 3, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Certification of the Sherman Island 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. The Project’s application materials can be found HERE.

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 “Sherman Island 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 October 2, 2020 to be considered. All comments will be posted to the website and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond. Any response will also be posted.