On October 5th, 1994 American Whitewater signed a settlement agreement with the New England Power Company, anglers, conservationists, and government agencies regarding the management of the Deerfield River (FERC P-2323). The Deerfield, located in Western Mass, was and is a classic whitewater run. The Deerfield River Settlement Agreement was valued at 27-30 million dollars, with the whitewater mitigation alone estimated to cost 3.2 million. Based on careful analyses and negotiations, the Settlement Agreement:
This relicensing settlement agreement was the first in the region and the second in the entire country. It set a new standard and created a new process for local stakeholders to make decisions regarding river management that would otherwise be made in DC. Dozens of other settlements followed this groundbreaking effort.
To meet the challenges of this relicensing process, a new organization was formed with the help of AW: New England FLOW. FLOW worked to build the coalition in support of the settlement process and agreement, and were the first to reach settlement with the power company. One cannot recall this process without crediting of Tom Christopher. Tom served as the FLOW secretary and AW board member throughout this time period and was the primary representative of the paddling community throughout the process. His dogged efforts payed off, and Tom remains actively engaged in FLOW, AW, and the management of the Deerfield River. Tom would be quick to point out that it was a team effort. The following people played important roles in this effort:
In 1997 FERC accepted the Deerfield River Settlement Agreement and issued a new 40 year license that closely followed the recommendations made in the agreement. The Deerfield River has become a true New England classic. Each year we celebrate our success there with the Deerfield River Festival.
The full story is told superbly in the AW journal in the following articles by Tom Christopher:
In response to requests by American Whitewater, several affiliates, and other stakeholders, FERC directed Brookfield Renewable to study the impact of its hydropower operations on whitewater boating on the Deerfield River in western Massachusetts. Boating groups and our supporters are seeking to determine optimal whitewater boating flows from the Fife Brook Dam and whether changes in hydropower operations would enhance boating opportunities, access and navigation.
The contacts below include staff and volunteers working on this project. Make sure you are logged in if you wish to join the group.
Plans for Deerfield River (MA) Pipeline and Withdrawal Cancelled
October 17, 2007
AW Working to Ensure Access to Deerfield River
August 22, 2012
TAKE ACTION: Bad Hydropower Legislation Vote Scheduled!
November 30, 2015
Brookfield, TransCanada Support #OptOutside on the Deerfield (MA)
November 17, 2015