Lower Kennebec Dams

January 16, 2023

Weston, Shawmut, Hydro Kennebec, and Lockwood, all owned by Brookfield.  Because of the Endangered Species status of the Kennebec’s Atlantic salmon, last year Brookfield was required to file a draft Species Protection Plan (SPP) and Biological Opinion (BO).  The National Marine Fisheries Service (of NOAA) is in the process of reviewing these proposals and must and either:

   - adopt the draft,

   - propose reasonable alternative actions that Brookfield must take to protect Atlantic salmon, or

   - declare the Draft or portions of the Draft SPP or BPO would put Atlantic salmon’s survival in Jeopardy.  

After closed door consultations between Brookfield and NOAA, NOAA has said that they will release their decision on Brookfield’s Draft SPP and BO on or before February 15th.

If NOAA Fisheries moves forward as Brookfield has proposed, against the recommendations of the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to issue much stronger requirements to protect Atlantic salmon at the Kennebec dams, the Kennebec River above Waterville will become another failed East Coast restoration story, just like the Connecticut, the Susquehanna, and the Merrimack rivers.

In January the National Resources Council of Maine issued an ACTION ALERT asking its members to write to NOAA Fisheries technical staff and ask them, as they develop their Biological Opinion, to please make sure they go forward together with Maine DMR and issue strong requirements to protect the Kennebec’s run of Atlantic salmon.  Trout Limited’s National office is in the process of taking this message to the national level with a nationwide ACTION ALERT to be released later this month.  The Kennebec Coalition urges Maine Trout Unlimited members to sign on to these requests. 

FERC has yet to issue their Environmental Impact Statement that was scheduled to be released last August and which will cover all four lower Kennebec Dams because of the cumulative impact of these four dams on Atlantic salmon.  FERC has not announced a date for this.

Brookfield must decide whether to appeal FERC’s decision upholding of the State of Maine’s Denial (without prejudice) of 401 Water Quality Certification for the Shawmut Dam to the D.C. Federal District Court.  Maine Department of Environmental Protection said they needed additional information (likely including yet to be released information from NOAA’s SPP and BO) to be able to assess this permit proposal.

The Endangered Species case brought by the Kennebec Coalition against Brookfield alleging violations of Brookfield’s Take Permit of Atlantic salmon has been delayed, likely pending outcome of some of the issues above. See photos at link below. 

Photos capture dramatic salmon rescue in Maine