ELLSWORTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER)—The Downeast Salmon Federation says thousands of adult river herring are being killed in Ellsworth. Fisheries Biologist, Brett Ciccotelli with the group, says herring attempting to migrate downstream after spawning in the Union River have been killed or injured while passing through Brookfield Energy’s Leonard Lake Dam in downtown Ellsworth.
All dams across the country including this one must renew their license’s every 30 years. The Federal Energy regulatory Commission will decide on this license renewal by the end of the year.
The Downeast Salmon Federation says Brookfield Renewable is requesting a status quo re-issue of their federal license. And they say these facilities must be modernized. Ciccotelli says a new license must include a safe and effective up and downstream passage if this dam is to be allowed to operate in the Union River for the next 30 years.
Brian Smith with Brookfield Renewable “As a result of recently observed fish mortalities on the Union River, we’ve proactively changed our operations at the Ellsworth hydro facility, prioritizing units and minimum flows, to see if these modifications will reduce the nominal mortalities seen during this season’s migration. As of this week, Ellsworth has passed over 900,000 river herring upstream, with over 300,000 being stocked in Graham Lake.” He says, “We are in frequent contact with all relevant state and federal regulators to inform them of happenings in real-time so we can work together to find the most effective path forward.”
Smith also says they are not requesting a status quo re-issue of their federal license. He says their license application states and describes the following actions.
· Develop, in consultation with fisheries management agencies, plans for upstream eel passage at Ellsworth and Graham Lake Dams;
· Consult with the fisheries management agencies on the need for and, if necessary, the design of downstream eel passage measures pending the results of downstream eel passage studies;
· Consult with the agencies on the need for and, if necessary, the design of upstream and downstream anadromous fish passage improvements pending the results of ongoing studies.
The Downeast Salmon Federation hopes FERC will require Brookfield to install a safer way for the fish to pass in order to renew the dam’s license by the end of this year.