The following Action Alert by David Tinjum is from the Mill City Times:
ACTION ALERT: LAST CHANCE TO BE HEARD ON CROWN HYDRO
Dear Friends, Neighbors and Community Leaders,
Time is running out for public comments – the deadline is Sunday, August 30 – on the new proposal from Crown Hydro that threatens St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge. Please take just a few minutes to submit your comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – the easy 3 step process is outlined here (you can even copy/paste our sample comment)
While there are many issues and unanswered questions regarding this new proposal, three stand out:
1. This is a Completely New Project, It Should Require a New License
The new proposed location and design of this project differs in every way from the current license held by Crown Hydro, issued in 1999, including:
– Location of the Headrace (Water intake)
– Location of the Powerhouse
– Location of the Discharge Tunnel
– Location of the Tailrace (Water outflow)
– Location of the Electrical Transmission Line
The new proposal bears no resemblance to the currently licensed project. Rather than amending their existing license, as Crown is proposing, they should be required to seek a new license. By seeking a new license, Crown would be required to conduct environmental, water quality, historical preservation and other studies and approvals based on the new location of the project.
2. Crown Hydro Could Shut Off St. Anthony Falls
Under the terms of the current license, Article 404, Crown Hydro LLC, a private developer, would have the authority to, for all practical purposes, shut off St. Anthony Falls for 12 months per year during times of low flow.
Back in the 1990’s when this project was conceived and licensed, the economic impact of a dry falls would have been negligible, given the fact that the Central Riverfront was not yet a major tourist attraction and public amenity. Today, a dry falls would be devastating to both the tourism industry and the use and enjoyment of the Central Riverfront by the general public. What is the definition of “some water”? See photo below.
*CROWN HYDRO LICENSE ARTICLE 404 FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION (FERC): The licensee shall operate the Crown Mill Hydroelectric project so that some water always flows over St. Anthony Falls except as follows: (A) during any periods of very low flows when the project could not operate at 200 cfs without drying up St. Anthony Falls, the project will operate only from nightfall until dawn; (B) between December 15 and March 15 the project will operate with whatever flows are available even if it dries up the falls; and (C) during low flows in July and August, the project will operate with up to 500 cfs during daylight hours even if it dries up the falls…
3. The Risk to the Stone Arch Bridge
Crown Hydro proposes to build a 930 foot long discharge tunnel, which was not part of their existing license, underneath the Stone Arch Bridge. The geology of the riverbed in this section of the river is highly fragile. This area is also well known for having a history of catastrophic tunnel collapses due to the geologic instability of the area. Should the Stone Arch Bridge suffer a collapse or even major structural damage, it may not be possible to repair this National Historic Landmark, and no contingency has been made to fund such remediation even should it be possible.
Your opinion counts! FERC will take notice if we can show community engagement – visit http://millcitytimes.com/CrownHydro to get started. I promise it will only take a few minutes.
Publisher, Mill City Times
PS. We need all the help we can get – forward this email to a friend or colleague and ask them to join in.
Background – Download Letter to FERC from Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board: