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Paddlers Organize to Protect Holtwood Whitewater Resources (PA)

Posted: 06/14/2006
By: Kevin Colburn

A coalition of paddlers has formed to address the proposed changes to the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project on Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River.  The changes as originally proposed would destroy most or all of the popular play waves and holes downstream of the Holtwood Dam.  American Whitewater staff worked with local paddlers to draft a set of detailed comments outlining our interests, the anticipated project impacts, study needs, and potential mitigation measures which we shared with the power company.  Paddlers then attended several public meetings and we followed up with a formal study request and significant dialog with the power company.

Within only two weeks of our study request (surely a record) the power company, PPL Generation, had organized a preliminary flow study during which two different flows were released into the river while paddlers assessed the playability of the waves, and agency personel studied fish movements.  Working closely with paddlers and other stakeholders, PPL is now exploring opportunities to protect, mitigate, or enhance the playboating resources below Holtwood Dam that will be affected by the proposed project changes.  

To help with the process, PPL has hired a widely respected whitewater park design firm.  Paddlers, PPL, and other stakeholders that include the Pennslvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) are now seeking creative modifications of the proposed project that will create or enhance several whitewater features while supporting fish passage and new hydro generation capacity at the existing dam.  While it remains almost certain that some whitewater resources will be lost, we are hopeful that a solution can be developed that is acceptable for all stakeholders.  

We would like to thank PPL and the PFBC for respectfully considering our interests and working with paddlers in an open and creative forum.   We would also like to recognize the great volunteer efforts of Chris Iverson (Conewago Canoe Club), Jeremy Laucks, Shirley Koty, and the other paddlers who are representing boating interests on this project.   

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Associated Projects

Holtwood Dam - Susqehanna (PA)

Dam Owner is proposing to reduce flows and alter channel containing whitewater features as part of a FERC license amendment.

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