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West River Hydropower Proposal Meetings Scheduled

Posted: 10/31/2009
By: Kevin Colburn

A private hydropower company has proposed to install hydropower generation facilities in two Army Corps of Engineers Dams on the West River (VT), including Ball Mountain Dam which provides releases into the popular whitewater section of the West. The Company, Blue Heron Hydro (BHH) is hosting a public meeting and site visit to discuss their proposal. Paddlers interested in the effects that the hydropower installation may have on the West River are encouraged to attend the meeting and site visit. 

The site visit is scheduled for Thursday, November 19, 2009, starting at 1:30 p.m at Ball Mountain intake tower, and proceeding to the Townshend intake tower. Parties interested in participating in the site visit should meet at the Ball Mountain intake tower off of Route 30 in Jamaica, Vermont at 1:30 pm. The public meeting will be at 6:30 pm that evening at the Jamaica Town Hall, located on Route 30 in Jamaica, Vermont. 

The agenda for the public meeting will be:

(a) a brief description of the proposed projects,
(b) an explanation of the FERC licensing process,
(c) a discussion of the anticipated study program, and
(d) obtaining the views of the public regarding resource issues to be addressed in the license applications.

American Whitewater and other paddling and conservation organizations are not fundamentally opposed to the installation of hydropower facilities into Government dams.  There are of course potential impacts of the installation including impacts to recreational access, the rapid near the dam, the scenery in the area, and flow regimes.  With that said, Ball Mountain Dam currently has poorly designed release structures that may impact aquatic habitat and fish passage and are known to limit recreational use.  It is at least feasible that thoughtful installation of hydropower facilities could improve fish passage and downstream conditions for fish and paddlers alike.  We ask that paddlers keep an open mind and voice any concerns they may have about this proposal. 

You can learn more by searching for “p-13226” on the website using FERC's e-library.

Interested paddlers who choose not to speak at the meeting, or are unable to attend the meeting may provide written statements, comments, or information within 60 days of the meeting date, or by January 19, 2010. All such correspondence should be directed to:

Lori Barg
Blue Heron Hydro LLC
113 Bartlett Road
Plainfield, Vermont 05667

Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

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Associated Projects

West River (VT)

Paddlers have long enjoyed and defended the few recreational releases on Vermont's West River. New hydro proposals may offer opportunities or impacts.

Associated Rivers

West River VT


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