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Wave Construction at Holtwood (PA) Begins

Posted: 08/09/2012
By: Kevin Colburn

Earlier this week the owner of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project on the Susquehanna River (PA) initiated a construction process that will result in two sizeable whitewater waves at the base of a defunct fish ladder on the west side of the dam.  Once completed, the waves will be activated by 264 hours of scheduled water releases each year as well as by significant periods of spill.  The waves will provide for high quality freestyle kayak surfing opportunities.  Construction is anticipated to be complete by year end, and releases should begin no later than the summer of 2013.

The construction of the features and releases were negotiated by American Whitewater, the Conewago Canoe Club, and regional paddlers to mitigate significant channel excavations and dewatering associated with the ongoing expansion of the Holtwood Hydroelectric Project.  These negotiations took several years, and were based on the goals of supporting the expansion of the hydropower project, enhancing fish passage at the dam, protecting as many natural whitewater paddling opportunities (both days and features) as possible, and mitigating the unavoidable loss of whitewater paddling opportunities.  

The Susquehanna River below Holtwood Dam will never be the same following the expansion of the hydro project.  Massive excavations aimed at preventing water from backing up into the powerhouse have replaced rapids with deep flowing pools.  New generators on the east side of the river will leave the west side of the river dry far more often. Through the paddling community's participation in this process we hope to have protected Storm Hole and other natural rapids, and created some new epic surfing opportunities to replace some of what has been lost. 

With 1000cfs releases and five feet of drop at each feature we expect some big-water play worthy of the big-water rapids of the Susquehanna River.     


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.

Read More

Associated Rivers

Susquehanna River PA
Holtwood III+


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