AW/VPC Appeal Vermont Move to Restrict Boating on Green River
By: Robert Nasdor
American Whitewater and Vermont Paddlers Club today appealed the decision by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that limits whitewater boating opportunities on the Green River in Morristown. DEC issued a water quality certification for the Morrisville Hydroelectric Project that reduces opportunities for whitewater kayakers to paddle the Green River compared with natural conditions, and in addition, eliminates all opportunities for scheduled whitewater boating releases that are enjoyed by scores of paddlers from the northeast as well as boaters from Canada under current operations. The Green River is a highly valued whitewater river containing a series of challenging drops and falls as it descends from the Green River Reservoir to the Lamoille River. The releases also have a positive economic impact on the community.
Morrisville Water and Light sought permission from the State to continue to operate its four hydroelectric facilities, including one at the Green River Dam in Morrisville. The project is currently being relicensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and certification or waiver by the state is required before a federal license can be issued. DEC will require the municipal utility to substantially reduce generation at the Green River Dam, resulting in an estimated $3.7 million loss over a 30-year term of the federal license. Despite finding that the Green River under current conditions generally meets the state’s water quality standards and supports healthy aquatic habitat, DEC is mandating major changes in the way that the project will operate to the extent that it will no longer be economically viable to continue hydropower operations.
According to Robert Nasdor, Northeast Stewardship Director for American Whitewater, “We support efforts to protect Vermont’s rivers and recreation opportunities, however the DEC decision fails to protect those important values and lacks sufficient justification.” Studies conducted during the ongoing dam relicensing show that the Green River currently provides healthy aquatic habitat in the reservoir and the River, according to the organization.
According to the utility, it is unwilling to operate the project at a loss and may seek to decommission the project and seek an alternate and more costly source of energy. The Green River Dam impounds the Green River Reservoir and is the centerpiece of the state park in Hyde Park. Decommissioning of hydropower projects like the one on the Green River often lead to dam removal, an outcome supported by the boating groups.
AW is seeking support from the boating community for the appeal to cover the cost of experts and other litigation expenses. CLICK HERE to donate and write "Green River Litigation Fund" in the comments area. Thanks for your support.