Lexington, Mass (March 12, 2018) – On March 9, 2018, the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) preliminarily approved Low Impact Certification for the Lowell project with the following conditions:

Condition 1. The Owner shall continue to maintain the current voluntary seasonal attraction flows in the bypass reach and full season fish ladder operation (See LIHI Reviewer Report, Appendix – Agency Letters) and proactively consult with the resource agencies regarding possible interim opportunities to enhance flows in the bypass reach and in the canal system (if needed) while the upcoming FERC relicensing activities are underway. Such opportunities may involve study of habitat quantity/quality, alternative flow regimes, and/or water quality monitoring so that modifications can be implemented more quickly once a new license is issued, or even prior to a new license if agreed to by all parties. During the term of this LIHI Certification, should a resource agency request implementation of enhanced bypass and/or canal flow measures as part of their recommendations or jurisdictional mandates under the relicensing proceedings, the Owner shall provide to LIHI in the annual compliance report a copy of the request, and describe the Owner’s plans to address these requests along with a schedule and progress toward implementation.

Condition 2. The Owner shall provide to LIHI as part of the annual compliance report, a status report of the FERC licensing progress listing significant agency interactions that have occurred in the past year that are relevant to any of LIHI’s Certification criteria, and highlighting major topics of agreement or disagreement.  LIHI reserves the right to request additional details if necessary, if highlighted topics are relevant to LIHI Certification criteria and their associated goals. LIHI also reserves the right to modify the Certificate conditions again if needed.

Condition 3.  The Owner shall work toward removing the state’s water quality impairment listing for hydromodification in the combined bypass and downstream reach of the Project. This may be accomplished by working proactively with Massachusetts DEP and:  a) ensuring that any water quality studies conducted as part of relicensing adhere to state quality control/quality assurance (QA/QC) protocols and that results are submitted to the state timely and in the proper format for use by the state in its biennial review(s) of the State’s Clean Water Act Integrated List of Waters; b) providing results of other relicensing studies (e.g., instream flow studies) to the state for inclusion in upcoming biennial reviews of the state’s impairment listings; and c) by submitting public comments relative to results from flow and water quality studies in that reach during the public comment process when the state’s draft lists are made available.  Activities and any changes in the impairment listing for the reach shall be summarized and reported to LIHI in the annual compliance reports.

Condition 4. The Merrimack River basin is highly developed for water resources and the operation of multiple hydropower facilities and other water uses in the basin are interconnected to a degree that requires a systematic approach for future management.  Solutions for individual facilities are insufficient to achieve the environmental protection and restoration needed for long-term, sustainable water uses.  Therefore, the Owner of the Lowell facility shall continue to play a constructive, supportive role in promoting integrative water management in the basin, both in the Project’s upcoming FERC relicensing and in other regulatory proceedings and voluntary activities that may develop in the basin.  The Owner shall report to LIHI on its activities relative to this condition each year in its annual compliance report. LIHI reserves the right to modify the Certificate conditions again if needed.

The reviewer’s report and the report of the Executive Director are attached at the bottom of this page. This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented in the initial application 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 to comments@lowimpacthydro.org. Requests must be received by 5:00 pm Eastern time April 11, 2018.

The full application, report of the executive director and reviewers report are available HERE.