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AW Secures Flow Information for Fox River, WI

Posted: 12/06/2008
By: Thomas O'Keefe

For the past year American Whitewater has been actively engaged in an effort to provide flow information for the Fox River and specifically the reach impacted by the Kaukauna Hydropower Project. This project diverts flow around a section of the Fox River with some outstanding whitewater features that are enjoyed by paddlers in northeast Wisconsin during high flows. The utility that operates the hydropower project is proposing to increase capacity and divert additional water from the river. American Whitewater has formally requested a review of impacts of the proposed project on existing recreational opportunities on the river which are highly valued by the local paddling community. We also have concerns with the impacts of diverting flow on fish and other biota.

On November 14th FERC issued a clear statement on the need for flow information stating as follows:

Item No. 3 of our additional information request (AIR) issued September 18, 2008 required that Kaukauna Utilities, as soon as it was feasible, provide real-time, publicly-available flow information for the Badger bypassed reach either on the internet or via an easily-readable gage installed within the bypassed reach.  The AIR recommended this information be made available in the coming fall, winter, spring, and summer seasons.  Item 3 also required that you coordinate, to the maximum extent feasible, the data gathering for that item with the instream flow study (AIR Item 2) and base your response on surveys of boaters who have experience using the resource. However, based on the discussion that occurred during the November 10, 2008 meeting on the instream flow study, it appears that no steps have been taken to provide the requested publicly-available real-time flow information for the Badger bypassed reach.  It is also unclear how you intend to coordinate the field work for the instream flow study and your data collection for the whitewater study.

This information is needed to allow for an accurate assessment of the range of flows currently available for whitewater boating in the bypassed reach, including the type of experience provided at various flows, which is necessary for the analysis of project effects on recreation.  Therefore, to reiterate and clarify our expectations, you must provide real-time flow information for the bypassed reach  to the public within 14 days of the issuance date of this letter.  In addition, you must install an easily readable gage within the bypassed reach prior to conducting the instream flow study, and you must provide 48-hour notice to all entities who have expressed an interest in these studies as to when the fieldwork for the instream flow study will occur so they have an opportunity to view the flows being studied.

 

The utility finally responded late last month by installing a staff gauge and publishing a web page with a table that correlates gate openings at the dam with discharge. You can access it from the Kaukauna Utilities website and following the links to Our Environment, Fox River, U.S. Kaukauna Dam Tainter Gate Spillway Flow Release.

This should allow us to begin the effort to quantify instream flow needs for recreation and evaluate impacts of the proposed project. AW will be working with local paddlers, the utility, National Park Service, and other stakeholders to evaluate instream flow needs for recreation over the coming months and we will keep the community updated through the website.

 

AW advocates for restoration and protection of flows that provide quality recreational opportunities and restore ecological function, accessible information on project operations and impacts to instream flows, and public access to over 100 rivers across the country impacted by hydropower. Our ability to be successful with this work is a direct result of the support from our members and volunteers.

 



 

Thomas O'Keefe

3537 NE 87th St.

Seattle, WA 98115

Phone: 425-417-9012
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