Proposal to Update the LIHI Handbook

Announcement of Public Comment on Updates to the 

LIHI Certification Handbook

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) is recommending new language in the LIHI Handbook that clarifies how Tribal rights and interests are incorporated into the LIHI Certification Program, as well as other minor updates and clarifications. LIHI would like to hear from interested parties about these changes, which, if adopted, would go into effect by January 1, 2025.

Submit comments via the button below or send an email to with “Handbook Revision Comments” in the subject line. Please include your name, organization and contact information in case we have any following up or clarifying questions. 

Comments are due June 4, 2024.


  • Announcement Sent, March 5, 2024


  • Download a copy of the handbook with updates: PDF | Word.
  • Hand copy of Proposal: PDF

Proposed Edits Webinar

On April 24, 2024, LIHI Certification Program Director Maryalice Fischer and Executive Director Shannon Ames presented an overview of the proposed edits made to the Low Impact Hydropower Certification Handbook. Staff reviewed the edits, answered attendee questions, and solicited feedback on the proposed changes. Please see below for a recording of the Proposed Edits Webinar.


The original LIHI Criteria for certification were published in 2000. In 2016, LIHI published a comprehensive update to the Certification Handbook (2nd Edition), which included substantial changes to the standards used to meet the LIHI Criteria. The update also changed “recommended for dam removal” from a criterion to an eligibility requirement and made upstream and downstream fish passage separate criteria. In addition, the update introduced the concept of zones of effect, requiring a comprehensive review of the criteria for each different area of ​​the facility. The 2nd Edition Handbook was updated several times, most recently in 2022, which included a longer base certification term of 10 years and a more comprehensive annual compliance review, as well as mechanisms to trigger a mid-term recertification review.  

Public input and comment have been a tenant of the LIHI Certification process since its inception. When an application is received in full, it is posted on the LIHI website, and a notification is sent to the LIHI mailing list for the state in which the project is located. Direct emails to a list of agencies and interested parties provided by the applicant are also sent. The public, agencies, and community members are all encouraged to provide comments on the application. Comments are shared with the applicant and included in the LIHI Reviewer's Report. Tribes have been able to comment in two capacities, as an agency with jurisdictional authority, and as an interested party or community member.

The proposed revisions to the Handbook include language to more comprehensively and clearly state how Tribal input is requested and Tribal rights and interests are incorporated in the LIHI application reviews.


In addition to minor editorial changes, the key changes in this revision are:

  • Additional defined terms include those related to Indigenous Knowledge, Tribal Nations, and various tribal interests and resources (Appendix A)
  • Modified and expanded the use and treatment of “science-based” and “Indigenous Knowledge based” information and “resource agency and tribal recommendations” (Appendix A)
  • Expanded and clarified the scope of tribal considerations, interests, and engagement (entire Handbook)
  • Simplified criterion names (entire Handbook)
  • Clarified that a facility must satisfy both a numbered standard and the criterion goal in each Zone of Effect (Section 3.1, Section 3.2, Appendix B).
  • Expanded measures eligible for PLUS consideration (Standard E-4) for the Shorelines and Watershed criteria (Section 3.2.5, Appendix B Table 7)
  • Clarified that impoundments not owned or controlled by the applicant must still be included in the application as a Zone of Effect (Section 4.1.1, Appendix A, Appendix B)
  • Clarified LIHI fees for special circumstances (Section 4.5, Section 6.4)

Public Comments

LIHI seeks the public’s input on the following questions:

  1. Are there other triggers not listed in the flow chart below that should be added?
  2. Are there terms used in the flowchart that you consider too vague, confusing, or misleading?
  3. Is six months sufficient time for a Certificate holder to prepare a full or partial application? Once submitted there would be the same 60-day public comment period.
  4. Does the proposal adequately retain the ability for the public to comment on LIHI Certified facilities?
  5. Would posting annual compliance status improve your understanding of the Certified facility’s standing?
  6. For applicants, would this proposal make you more or less likely to seek LIHI Certification for the first time?
  7. Would the proposal impact (positively or negatively) your confidence in the LIHI Certification program?


Any questions on the proposal can be directed to either Shannon Ames, or Maryalice Fischer.