Whitewater paddling is often a positive promotion of river conservation. In the case of Twelvemile River, it can also be said that river conservation is a positive promotion of whitewater paddling. In this case of PCB remediation, the restoration solution was to allow a natural flow of sediment down Twelvemile River to bury the PCBs in Lake Hartwell, insulating them from the ecosystem. Three dams in the last two miles of naturally flowing river before the lake have prevented the natural flow of sediment. Removal of these three dams allows this restoration effort to take place and creates two miles of potential whitewater with 56 feet per mile gradient.
In the mid-1980s, Twelvemile River was being given strong consideration for state Wild and Scenic River status. This was abruptly ended with the discovery of PCBs. American Whitewater maintains that this loss of status due to PCBs and the river management process associated with it has resulted in a loss to the paddling community.
A natural resource damage settlement has been reached and focuses on “primary restoration.” This means the intent of the settlement is that funds be spent on restoring the affected natural resources. The responsible party will remove the lower two dams and provide a specified sum of money to be spent on yet to be determined projects to the natural resource trustees. The removal of the uppermost dam is specifically cited as a potential project for these funds. The consent agreement cites recreational opportunities as a key objective for improvements with natural resource damage funds. This settlement. if approved, will result in dam removal beginning as early as this year.
Fortunately, “primary restoration” of the river is the optimal solution for whitewater opportunities and therefore provides compensation for damages to paddlers. A 30 day comment period is provided through March 12, 2006. Paddlers are encouraged to respond. Responses should encourage removal of the uppermost dam and access to the river.
The consent agreement can be read at:
Comments will be accepted through March 10, 2006 and should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20044-7611, with a copy to Ann Hurley, U.S. Department of Justice, 301 Howard Street, Suite 1050, San Francisco, CA 94105, and should refer to United States et al. v. Schlumberger Technology Corporation, D.J. Ref. 90-11-2-696/1.
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