The Red River is one of the most highly valued whitewater recreational resources in the Midwest.
Hydropower on the Red River
The Lower Red River dam, the one located at the put-in for the Lower Red, is known as the Weed Dam (FERC Project 2464). The powerhouse has two generators a GE 500 kW generator and an Electric Machinery 120 kW generator. The dam thus produces a very small amount of power. The current license to operate this dam was issued in 1965 and is set to expire in 2015. Until relatively recently the dam was operated in a peaking mode which meant river flows were held back by the dam and then released through the powerhouse at times when power demand was greatest. This provided some great flows for whitewater boating but some degree of uncertainty as you were never quite sure whether the river would be flowing or not. The fish and aquatic resources were not too happy with this arrangement either and the peaking operations were technically in violation of the license conditions. The license specifies that the project was to be operated in a run-of-river mode–basically flow from the powerhouse had to match inflow to the reservoir in real time.
The DNR and the Fish and Wildlife Service both wrote letters to FERC in 1999 and 2000 asking for review of dam operations regarding flow peaking. Little action was initiated, but a constituent letter forwarded by Congressman Mark Green in 2003 referenced the poor aquatic habitat and an outbreak of Blastomycosis, allegedly due to the peaking operation of the Weed Dam. Shortly after FERC received the Congressman’s letter, FERC started asking the Village of Gresham for proof of license-compliant dam operation. FERC was not happy with the original response received from Gresham in Nov. 2003, and subsequent Village letters to FERC ultimately include notification that the operation protocols for the dam were changed on June 16, 2004.
In Summer 2010 Gresham filed their Preliminary Application Document and Notice of Intent to relicense the project. This sets in motion the process to relicense the or decommission this hydroelectric project.
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