The Low-Impact Hydropower Institute has announced the first hydropower facility to seek certification as "Low Impact" under the Institute's criteria.
The certification application was received from the Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative, Island Park Hydroelectric Project, located in Ashton, Idaho. The Institute believes this is a critical turning point in the longstanding national effort to develop a better assessment tool for evaluating the environmental impacts of hydropower facilities.
"We are pleased to receive the first of what we expect to be many applications seeking the Institute's Low-Impact Hydropower designation," said Richard Roos-Collins, chairman of the LIHI Board and an attorney with the Natural Heritage Institute (NHI). "We applaud the Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative for their interest in leading the market towards improving the environmental performance of hydropower facilities nationwide."
The public is invited to review all applications considered by the Institute -- a nonprofit organization. Certification applications, criteria and other LIHI information are available at www.lowimpacthydro.org. Over the next 60 days, the cooperative's application will be posted for public comment and subject to an extensive technical review. Based on any public comments received and the findings of the technical review, the Institute's Governing Board will make a final determination on the facility's status as Low-Impact.
The Institute grew out of two years of discussion between environmentalists, power marketers, hydropower reform organizations, and dam owners on establishing criteria that could be used to designate hydropower facilities as "Low-Impact." The Institute's criteria cover eight different aspects of hydropower operations, ranging from water flows to fish impacts to recreational uses; and require supporting evidence from local resource agencies with regulatory oversight over the facility.
More than 20 environmental and water groups from around the country have signed on in support of the LIHI program and approach. Organizations that helped establish the Institute include NHI, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and the Center for Resource Solutions.