Maine DEP denies water quality certification for Shawmut dam, encourages Brookfield to reapply following federal evaluation

On July 29, Maine DEP drafted a denial without prejudice for Brookfield’s Water Qualification Certification request for the Shawmut dam and issued the following press release:

On July 15th, 2022, the National Marine Fisheries Service requested a 90-day extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider additional information related to fish passage in the Kennebec River as part of their formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act. According to the extension request, the information emerged as a result of discussions between the National Marine Fisheries Service and Brookfield related to impacts on Atlantic salmon. The National Marine Fisheries Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are currently conducting evaluations of the environmental impacts of the Shawmut Hydroelectric Project, which are expected to affect fish passage measures.

In order to ensure any water quality certification by the State for the Shawmut hydroelectric project includes the full range of information from the Federal evaluation, including the most up-to-date science, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has drafted a denial, without prejudice, of Brookfield’s October 18, 2021 Water Quality Certification application. This action on Brookfield’s request for certification is not based on the technical merits of the request. It also does not forecast any potential future decision by DEP on Brookfield’s Water Quality Certification request.

DEP is required under the Clean Water Act to act on applications for water quality certifications within one year of their submission. Today’s action fulfills that statutory requirement.  DEP is providing the applicant with 5 days to provide comments on the draft.  Following issuance of a final denial, Brookfield will need to submit a revised application to DEP to in order to receive a water quality certification.

The Department looks forward to working with Brookfield as it continues to refine its relicensing proposal and as it works to submit an updated and complete request for certification to the Department.

Find the draft decision on the Shawmut project informational webpage.

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