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The City of River Falls operates the River Falls Hydroelectric Project (FERC P-10489) on the Kinnickinnic River, in the City of River Falls in Pierce County, Wisconsin. This project is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and includes two dams:

  • Junction Falls Dam is a a 140-foot-long and 32-foot-high concrete dam that backs up a 15.5-acre-feet reservoir that had an original storage capacity of 142.7 acre-feet prior to sediment filling much of the reservoir and is known as “Lake George”. The powerhouse at this dam has a 250 kW generator. The first dam at this location was constructed in 1867. The current dam was initially constructed in 1920 but resurfaced and extended to its current height.
  • Power Falls Dam is a 110-foot-long and 16.5-foot-high concrete dam that backs up a 37 acre-feet reservoir known as “Lake Louise.” The powerhouse at this dam has a 125 kW generator. The first dam at this location was a wooden structure constructed in 1893 and the current cement dam was built in 1966.

Together these dams inundate a series of rapids and Junction Falls, that are located in downtown River Falls and represent the namesake for the community.

The City of River Falls hired Inter-Fluve to conduct a sediment assessment of the reservoirs that was completed in 2016. The final report shows that toxic contaminants are not a concern in the sediments that need to be managed regardless of whether the dams are retained or not.

Given the small production hydroelectric capacity of the project, water quality impacts due to increased temperature in the reservoirs, need for sediment management, and intriguing possibilities for new recreational opportunities on a free-flowing river through town, American Whitewater supports further exploration of dam removal.

Because the current license to operate the project is expiring soon, the City of River Falls, the licensee for the project, must file a Notice of Intent and Pre-Application Document by August 30, 2018, and an application for a new license must be filed by August 31, 2021. We have an interest in including dam removal as one of the alternatives evaluated by FERC.

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