Coalition Members Reach Settlement in Saluda Project

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Coalition members American Rivers, American Whitewater, and Coastal Conservation League along with state and federal agencies have reached an agreement for the Saluda hydroelectric project (P-516) on the Saluda River in South Carolina.

The agreement marks another milestone in the collaborative approach of settlement that the Coalition has been promoting in recent years. The agreement for the Saluda project, known as the Comprehensive Relicensing Settlement Agreement, addresses issues such as public safety, recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality.

The agreement has also addressed the irregular flow releases from the Saluda, which was both a public safety hazard and a recreational concern for downstream section of the river. According to the agreement, South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) will operate a system to notify the subscribers of flow releases from the project and also maintain a website that will provide notification of current operations and a schedule of planned operations. It is hoped that the new provisions will increase public safety and provide a better environment for boaters and others seeking recreation on the river, which is known regionally for its challenging whitewater.

According to a press release from American Rivers, highlights of the hydropower agreement include:

  • More natural river flows: SCE&G will operate the dam to support natural, seasonal flows that benefit the health of the river and its web of life.
  • Protection and restoration measures for striped bass and other fish, as well as rare freshwater mussels, rocky shoal spider lilies, and shortnose sturgeon.
  • Special water releases 51 days per year to support whitewater paddling and wade fishing, and up to 11 days per year to support whitewater rescue training for the Columbia Fire Department and other entities.
  • An improved warning system to alert the public of pending hydroelectric generation and posting of the planned generation schedule on the web.
  • More public recreation areas downstream of the dam and at Lake Murray.
  • A commitment to keep Lake Murray full for a longer period of time which benefits lake recreation and allows SCE&G to release more water downstream.

 

The Settlement Agreement has been filed with the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, which has yet to approve it. FERC has set September 29 as the deadline to file comments on the Agreement. The Agreement is available on the FERC e-library.