article photo dhXp8i7SYHX4E2jGOMd95.jpg

State Legislation Threatens Spring Upper Yough Releases (MD)

Posted: 02/22/2024
By: Kevin Colburn

New legislation is threatening spring releases on the Upper Youghiogheny, and we encourage Maryland residents to reach out to your state House and Senate legislators to share your concerns. The bill aims to subvert the state permit for the dam that was crafted through a science-based and balanced public process, and deliver benefits to reservoir-side homeowners at the expense of downstream river users. Specifically the bill would require the power company to expand their winter drawdown of the reservoir, jeopardizing spring releases that require a full reservoir. 


Maryland Residents Take Action:


Step 1: Find your State Senator and House Delegate

Step 2: Email both of them. Share who you are, why this issue is important to you, and a clear statement of opposition to SB837 and HB910


Sample Language (Please personalize and add to this!):


I am writing today in opposition to SB 837 and HB 910, “Deep Creek Lake – Lower Lake Levels – Requirement and Impact Study,” because this legislation would subvert a robust public process that led to a balanced hydropower permit, and would impact the interests of the many Maryland residents and visitors who benefit from the recreational water releases into the Youghiogheny River from Deep Creek Lake. 




The Upper Youghiogheny River is one of the most important rivers to the paddling community in the eastern United States. Its world class whitewater rapids, protected natural scenery, and predictable dam releases from Deep Creek Lake combine to make the river a recreational treasure that draws thousands of paddlers each year. American Whitewater has many members that have bought homes and started businesses and families in Western Maryland specifically because of the Upper Youghiogheny. It is the rare river that draws not just visitors, but full time residents. This river also is the bread and butter of several local businesses that contribute significantly to the Town of Friendsville and the greater area in terms of employment, taxes, and economic activity. 


The recreational water releases on the Upper Youghiogheny River are provided from the hydroelectric project that forms Deep Creek Lake. We participated in in-depth collaborative discussions with a broad array of stakeholders that framed and resulted in the 2007 Water Appropriation and Use Permit for the hydropower project, as well as subsequent permit renewal. This process was deeply vetted with stakeholders, scientifically supported, and comprehensive. The result was a permit that balanced all interests, including reservoir recreation and values, river recreation, environmental values, and hydropower generation.  


This public, agency-led, science-infused process is the correct way to balance the many interests and complex issues associated with the operation of a hydropower project. SB 837 seeks to subvert that process by politically requiring certain privileges be granted to one interest group that would impact other groups and interests. Specifically, the expanded winter drawdown of the reservoir that SB 837 would dictate would delay refilling the reservoir in the spring, thereby jeopardizing important spring recreational releases that require a full reservoir, and reducing the ecologically valuable natural spring flow pulse. This would disrupt the current balanced management, disadvantage other interests, and require a costly new permitting process to integrate these changes.


Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

Full Profile
Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!