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Holtwood Project Back on the Table (PA)

Posted: 04/13/2009
By: Kevin Colburn

For almost two years American Whitewater and several paddling clubs and businesses carefully reviewed a proposal to modify the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River and worked to minimize and mitigate the proposed impacts to paddling resources.  Then, in a surprise turn of events, in December of last year the power company withdrew its proposal based primarily on the prevailing financial issues.  Last week, the power company resubmitted their proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and requested expedited approval.  They cited the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, popularly known as the stimulus package, as the reason that the project is now financially viable. 


The proposed changes to the dam would route water through several new turbines – water that now spills over the dam whenever flows exceed the capacity of the existing turbines.  Reducing these spills is anticipated to help migrating American shad find the fish elevator and successfully pass upstream of the dam.  Unfortunately the spills provide great freestyle kayaking opportunities which the proposed project originally would have harmed through flow reductions and streambed modifications. 


American Whitewater and our partners worked closely with the power company to negotiate a settlement agreement that would protect existing rapids, create two new freestyle features, provide releases for the created features, and enhance river access and flow information.  With the proposal’s resubmittal it is now anticipated that our settlement agreement will be renewed.


This creative solution will enhance fish passage, create new relatively low impact hydropower, and will limit and mitigate impacts to paddling opportunities.   


Read a recent news article here


Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

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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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Associated Rivers

Susquehanna River PA
Holtwood III+
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