LIHI Certificate #56 - Loring Road Project, Massachusetts

Project Name Loring Road
LIHI Certificate No. 56
LIHI Certificate Term April 14, 2023 – April 13, 2038
Owner Massachusetts Water Resource Authority
State Massachusetts
Location Located in a valve chamber at the Loring Road Covered Storage Facility in Weston, Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 0.2 MW
Average Annual Generation 836 MWH
Facility Type conduit
FERC No. P-13400 exempt 2009

The Loring Road Project is located in a valve chamber at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s (MWRA) Loring Road Covered Storage Facility in Weston, Massachusetts. The MWRA supplies wholesale water to local water departments in 50 communities, primarily in the Boston metropolitan area. MWRA’s water comes from the Quabbin Reservoir, about 65 miles west of Boston, and the Wachusett Reservoir, about 35 miles west of Boston. Both Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs are man-made reservoirs, constructed for water supply purposes. The conduit hydro project was completed and became operational in 2010.

The MWRA transmission system consists of over 100 miles of tunnels and aqueducts that transports water largely by gravity to points of distribution within the MWRA service area. There are three locations within this water transmission system where hydroelectric facilities are located. These include Oakdale facility (LIHI #57) at the end of the Quabbin Aqueduct; the Cosgrove Intake to the Cosgrove Aqueduct (LIHI #55); and the Loring Road Covered Storage Facility.

The hydroelectric facility generates power from fully treated potable water as it is transferred via a pipeline from one covered water supply storage tank in MWRA’s water distribution system (Norumbega) to another covered storage tank (Loring Road). The hydro facility’s operation is driven by water demand in MWRA’s Low Service area and does not influence or affect withdrawals from MWRA’s source reservoirs more than 30 miles away.

Loring Road Covered Storage establishes the hydraulic grade line of the MWRA’s Low Service Area (areas of lower elevation within the MWRA service area). The water reaches Loring Road at a hydraulic grade line of approximately 282 feet. At Loring Road, the flow is divided; some flow is directed to a supply pipeline serving MWRA’s High Service system, while other flow is directed to pressure reducing valves inside Valve Chamber One, an underground valve chamber. Either the hydro turbine or sleeve valves, or both when water demand is high, are used to reduce the grade line to approximately 200 feet.

After the hydro turbine or pressure reducing valves, water is sent via a pipeline to a second valve chamber that directs flows to either Loring Road Storage Tank One or Two. A steady flow rate of 20 million gallons per day can be discharged from Valve Chamber One into the tanks on a nearly constant basis. From the tanks, flow is discharged to downstream pipelines (Weston Aqueduct Supply Mains) serving MWRA’s Low Service Area. The 200-kW hydro turbine driven generator provides energy recovery along with the primary purpose of the Loring Road facility to regulate flow and provide a constant pressure water supply to the low service system. The Loring Road Storage Facility operates 24/7, and the hydroelectric facility is integrated into existing operations. The power produced is distributed to the electrical grid and generates income for MWRA.

The project operates as a conduit facility. Waters are transferred from one water supply tank to another and do not discharge into a river.

Waters within the project reach are utilized for water supply purposes and are thus high quality and potable.

Fish passage is not necessary nor feasible due to the conduit nature of the project.

The facility is located in a water distribution facility and the DCR’s Division of Water Supply is responsible for shoreline protection.

The hydropower facility is located entirely within the water supply facility, and entirely underground.  As such, there are no impacts to shorelines or the watershed. The project owner partners with the DCR’s Division of Watershed Management and uses revenues to offset costs associated with watershed protection activities, roughly $20-25 million annually.

There are no threatened or endangered species potentially present at the project. Similarly, no cultural or historic resources exist in the hydro project.

The project is located at a public water supply transfer facility, which restricts public access to the project area.

Compliance Status

There are no facility-specific conditions in the current Certificate.

2024: No material changes or compliance issues were identified. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.

2023:  Annual reporting for the current Certificate has not yet taken effect.

Certification History

February 6, 2024: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has issued a final decision on the recertification of the Loring Road Hydroelectric Project. The new certification term is April 14, 2023 through April 13, 2038

January 3, 2024: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has preliminarily approved Low Impact recertification for the Loring Road Hydroelectric Project. The full application and reviewer’s report are available below. 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 with “Loring Road Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Ave, 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 February 2, 2024. If no appeal requests are received the certification term will be April 14, 2023 through April 13, 2038.

October 24, 2023: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has received a complete recertification application from Massachusetts Water Resource Authority for the Loring Road Project. 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 with “Loring Road Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on December 23, 2023 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.

December 7, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Loring Road Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-13400) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. A Preliminary Decision was announced on December 14, 2015, and a 30-day appeal period was open through January 14, 2016. No requests for appeal were received. The effective certification date for the Loring Road Project is April 14, 2015 for an eight (8) year term, which will expire on April 14, 2023.

October 22, 2015:  The Loring Road Hydroelectric Project has been granted an additional extension; the new expiration date is December 31, 2015.

September 30, 2015 – The Low Impact Hydropower Institute received a complete application for a new term of Low Impact Certification for the Loring Road Hydroelectric project on September 21, 2015.  The application materials can be found in the Files section below. The public comment period for this application closed on November 30, 2015.

June 19, 2015: The Loring Road Hydroelectric Project has been granted an extension of the current certificate term. The new expiration date is October 11, 2015. See ExtensionLetter_2015Recert for explanation below.

July 21, 2010: The Loring Road Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact. Because construction of the Loring Road facility is not expected to be complete until fall of 2010, LIHI certification is granted for an 18 month term beginning on April 14, 2010, with the certification extended for an additional 42 months should the applicant demonstrate to LIHI that it has complied with the conditions contained in the FERC exemption.

June 14, 2010: The public comment period on the application for certification has been closed.

June 9, 2010: LIHI received a comment letter from the USFWS on the Loring Road project. It can be read in the Files section below.

May 4, 2010: LIHI received a comment letter from Dr. David Westerling, P.E. of the Department of Civil Enginerring at Merrimack College. It can be found in the Files section below.

April 14, 2010: The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has submitted an application for the certification of the Loring Road Hydro Project. A public comment period will remain open for 60 days.

Certification Files

2023 Recertification

2015 Recertification

2010 Certification

Key Documents