LIHI Certificate #42 - Dodge Falls Project, Vermont

The Dodge Falls Project is located on the Connecticut River in the towns of Bath, New Hampshire and Ryegate, Vermont. It is located immediately downstream of the Fifteen Mile Falls Hydroelectric Project (FERC # 2077, LIHI #39). The hydroelectric station was constructed at the site of the existing Dodge Falls dam. The dam was used until 1966 to provide waterpower to a paper mill located on the Vermont side of the river. From 1966 until 1990 process water was supplied to the paper mill with excess flow discharged over the dam. When the Dodge Falls project began operation in 1990, most of the river flow then was used for hydroelectric generation with the paper mill receiving up to 5 cfs for process use. In 2000, the paper mill was shut down and papermaking machinery was removed from the mill.

The project includes a grouted, rock fill, timber crib dam about 15.5 feet tall and 485 feet long, originally constructed in 1905; a 75-foot-long concrete spillway on the NH side; a 2-foot-tall rubber pneumatic flashboard system on both the dam and spillway; the powerhouse on the NH side contains a single double-regulated Escher Wyse turbine with an installed capacity of 5 MW; a bypassed reach on the west bank at the old mill where water was formerly provided to and discharged from the mill. All entrances have been sealed and no water passes through that reach.

The project operates in a run-of-river mode and impounds a 290-acre reservoir. Reservoir level is maintained at the top of the flashboards through operation of a pond level control system. The project provides a minimum flow of 1,108 cfs or inflow, if less. Project inflow is controlled by the flow discharged from the upstream McIndoes Hydroelectric Station. This flow regime is based on the USFWS summertime New England Aquatic Base Flow methodology and run-of-river operations have been confirmed by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

Project Name Dodge Falls
LIHI Certificate No. 42
LIHI Certificate Term June 1, 2019 - May 31, 2024
Owner Dodge Falls Associates, LP
State New Hampshire, Vermont
Location Located at river mile 264.7 on the Connecticut River in the towns of Bath, New Hampshire and Ryegate, Vermont.
Installed Capacity 5.0 MW
Average Annual Generation 25,707 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-8011 exempt 1984

Waters within the project reach are designated Class B by both Vermont and New Hampshire. These waters are managed for high quality aquatic habitat and primary/secondary contact recreation. Monitoring was conducted in 2014 to assess dissolved oxygen, water temperature, total phosphorus, and chlorophyll-a. New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services confirmed that based on the data collected the project does not adversely impact water quality in the river.

Historically, the Connecticut River supported many migratory fish species including Atlantic salmon. Dams constructed downstream of the project create barriers to passage. The long-running Connecticut River Atlantic salmon stocking restoration program was terminated in 2012 and upstream passage at the project is not needed. Downstream passage was facilitated by a steel collection box with a slide gate that allowed water to flow through a passage pipe that discharged into the tailrace. The passage facility was installed in accordance with agency prescriptions. Due to the cessation of the salmon restoration program, this passage facility is no longer operated unless requested by resource agencies. Resident fish species at the project include banded killifish, bluegill, white sucker, fallfish, longnose dace, smallmouth bass, tessellated darter, and yellow perch. Trashracks with 1-inch spacing (top 10 feet of the rack) and 3-inch spacing (lower 30 inches of the rack) effectively exclude most fish from entrainment.

The project lands consist of nine acres. Land use around the project is primarily undeveloped woodlands and cleared farmlands, with limited development along the shoreline until the town of Bath and small areas of development in East Ryegate. Run-of-river operations help maintain aquatic and fisheries habitat.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Balsam groundsel, Northern long eared bat, and Dwarf wedgemussel. There is no critical habitat for the Northern long-eared bat and the project operates in compliance with the USFWS Section 4(d) Rule which includes restrictions on tree clearing during roost season for the bats (June1-July 31). The Dwarf wedgemussel has not been located in the project vicinity. The run-of-river operation of the project mitigates any impact on the balsam groundsel and the project must consult with the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau before conducting any ground-disturbing activity.

Historic properties in the project area include the former paper mill site and associated facilities on the Vermont side of the project which are potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. However, project operations do not impact any eligible resources as concluded by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

Recreational resources at the project include fishing access, a canoe portage, and a camping shelter for paddlers, all located on the NH side of the river. Public access is provided free of charge.


Certification History

February 7, 2020: The decision to recertify the Dodge Falls Project became final after the close of the appeals period on February 6, 2020 with no appeals filed.  The Certification term is from June 1, 2019 – May 31, 2024.

January 7, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved Low Impact Recertification for the Dodge Falls Hydroelectric Project, LIHI #42. The Certification includes one condition:

  • Condition 1: Prior to undertaking any ground-disturbing activity in the region below the dam, the Owner shall consult with NH Natural Heritage Bureau and if needed, conduct a survey for balsam groundsel and develop any necessary mitigation measures.  Prior to felling any trees, the Owner shall consult with US Fish and Wildlife Service to review and ensure compliance with the Best Management Practices for Hazard Tree Removal contained in the report “Beneficial Forest Management Practices for WNS-affected Bats” (refer to the review report for link to the report).

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 “Dodge Falls 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 February 6, 2020.  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 will be from June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2024.

October 14, 2019: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has received a complete application for Low Impact Recertification of the Dodge Falls 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 “Dodge Falls 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 December 13, 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.

June 3, 2015: Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has determined that the Dodge Falls Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 8011) satisfies the LIHI Certification Criteria. The effective certification date for the Dodge Falls Project is June 1, 2014 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on June 1, 2019, with the following condition:

  • Condition satisfied 2017. Condition 1: The facility owner shall consult with the NHDES to develop a water quality monitoring plan to define current water quality conditions at the Dodge Falls dam and powerhouse, shall implement that plan, and shall report the results to NH DES and to LIHI within six months of the date of recertification. If the facility is found to be the cause of any violations of state water quality standards, the facility owner shall notify LIHI within 30 days of such a finding and shall develop a remediation plan to correct the violations. LIHI reserves the right to suspend or rescind its certification if successful remediation is not implemented.

September 5, 2014: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) received an application for a second term of Low Impact Certification of the Dodge Falls Hydroelectric Project, FERC #8011, located on the Connecticut River in Vermont. The current Certificate term expired June 1, 2014, but an extension of the term has been granted through December 31, 2014 to allow for administrative processing and public comment.

The 2014 Dodge Falls application materials are available below.

August 29, 2009: The Dodge Falls Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective June 1, 2009 and expiring June 1, 2014.

June 1, 2009: Dodge Falls Associates, LP has submitted an application for certification of the Dodge Falls Hydroelectric Project. A public comment period for the application will remain open for 60 days.