Black Warrior Project Gets FERC License


On March 31, FERC issued a 30-year license to Alabama Power Company to operate its Warrior project (P-2165) on the Black Warrior River in Alabama.

Among other things, the license requires Alabama Power to release a minimum flow of 50 cubic feet per second from the Smith dam and also annually stock coldwater fish species (i.e., trout) in the tailwaters of the Smith development. The annual stocking is expected to enhance recreational sport fishery in Sipsey Fork tributary of the Black Warrior River.

Alabama Power had also previously agreed with the Forest Service to provide funding for resource protection. The funding will be used to conduct studies of federally listed flattened musk turtle, survey and monitor other sensitive species, conduct public education campaigns, monitor water quality etc.

American Rivers, the chair of the HRC, has long been pushing the FERC and Alabama Power to consider the impacts of the project on many endangered and threatened species such as the freshwater mussels, flattened musk turtles, red-cockaded woodpecker, and Black Warrior waterdog. The Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to initiate formal consultation for some mussel species and the flattened musk turtles in the FERC process despite the final environmental analysis for the project showing that there will be adverse effects on the species.

Responding to the Service's failure to act, Matt Rice of American Rivers said, "FWS’s failure to meet their obligation under the Endangered Species Act is likely to cause tremendous negative impacts on the species."

The project consists of two developments- the Smith development located on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River and the Bankhead development located further 78.5 miles downstream on the US Army Corps’ Bankhead Lock and Dam No. 17 on the Black Warrior River.

The license order can be read here.