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AW Files For Sullivan Creek Protection (WA)

Posted: 08/17/2007
by Kevin Colburn

A power company built 2 dams, power houses, diversion pipes, and transmission lines on NE Washington's Sullivan Creek almost a century ago.  Ever since, the owners of the project have used water from the small creek to generate power.  Several months ago they asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to give up jurisdiction over the project because it had fallen into disrepair they apparently they have no plans to fix it.  In other words, they wanted a free ticket to abandon the project or operate it however they choose to benefit generation at downstream dams.  AW was the only public interest organization that intervened and protested, along with the Tribe, the US Forest Service, and Washington State. 

Last month, the FERC decided to let the dam owners off the hook, leaving in place impacts fish passage, fish spawning, sediment transport, and potentially to recreation.   American Whitewater, with the superb help of the Natural Heritage Institute, today filed a Request for Rehearing with the FERC.  This filing asks FERC to reconsider their decision, based on significant legal grounds, and asks that the FERC require settlement talks to discuss project removal and/or transfer of jurisdiction to the Forest Service.  The US Forest Service and Washington State also filed similar requests for rehearing.

The operation of the dams on Sullivan Creek may currently benefit whitewater boating through providing fall releases into the Class IV/V Gorge between the dams and the long disfunctional powerhouse.  Without FERC jurisdiction however, past operations are no indication of future operations, and these releases may be discontinued.  Removal of the project may eliminate these recreational benefits, but may reveal new boating opportunities, and would absolutely benefit the stream and its inhabitants which include bull trout.  Whatever happens to this beautiful little creek, it deserves better than to have a hydro project abandoned on it, and the US citizens should not be stuck with the cleanup.      
Kevin Colburn
Asheville, NC


  • AW's Request for Rehearing regarding a FERC decision to give up their jurisdiction over the Sullivan Creek Project, located in NE Washington.

Associated Rivers


Associated Projects

Sullivan Creek (WA)
Two dams in the Sullivan Creek watershed no longer generate power. One was removed in 2017 as the result of a 2010 Settlement Agreement.