INTRODUCTION PURPOSES OF THE KENNEBEC RIVER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN The Kennebec River Resource Management Plan represents a comprehensive examination by the State of Maine of the various resources and beneficial uses of the Kennebec River. The Plan discusses each of these resources and beneficial uses and, consistent with existing State policies, makes certain recommendations that reflect the State's determination of how those resources and beneficial uses should be balanced against one another in various circumstances.
This Resource Management Plan is intended to serve several purposes. A primary purpose of the Plan is to comply with the requirements of a Maine statute enacted in 1989. This statute, titled "An Act to Ensure Notification and Participation by the Public in Licensing and Relicensing of Hydroelectric Dams and to Further Ensure the Equal Consideration of Fisheries and Recreational Uses in Licensing and Relicensing," is codified at 12 MRSA §407 (see Appendix A). The statute requires the State Planning Office (SPO) to work with the natural resource agencies of the State to develop a management plan for each watershed in the State with a hydropower project currently or potentially regulated by the Federal government. "These plans shall provide a basis for State agency comments, recommendations and permitting decisions and shall at a minimum include, as applicable, minimum flows, impoundment level regimes, upstream and downstream fish passage, maintenance of aquatic habitat and habitat productivity, public access and recreational opportunities. These plans shall update, complement and, after public notice, comment and hearings in the watershed, be adopted as components of the State's comprehensive rivers management plan." The Plan responds to the requirements of the Maine statute with respect to the Kennebec River.
The Kennebec River Resource Management Plan also serves as the State's "comprehensive plan" for the Kennebec River for purposes of consideration by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding hydroelectric licensing and relicensing within the Kennebec basin. Under section 10(a) (2) (A) of the Federal Power Act, FERC is required to consider the extent to which proposed hydroelectric projects, and the continued operation of existing projects, are consistent with "comprehensive plans" prepared by federal and State agencies. The Plan is intended to be used by FERC in its analysis of beneficial uses of the Kennebec River. To the extent that previous State publications have identified goals and objectives for Kennebec River resources, those goals and objectives either have been included within the Plan or have been balanced against other goals and objectives in developing the Plan's recommendations and conclusions. The Plan also incorporates existing State policies regarding Kennebec River resources.
This river resource management plan has been developed with considerable citizen and public agency input. Consistent with State policy and the provisions of the Maine Administrative Procedure Act, this plan is intended to combine professional judgements by the State Planning Office, the state agency charged with comprehensive watershed planning, with comments and opinions by all elements of the political process, including citizens, other state agencies, the State Legislature, resource users, and interested organizations.
Although it is recognized that case-by-case review of individual hydroelectric projects will occur, the Plan is intended to provide a comprehensive review of various competing beneficial uses of the Kennebec, so that individual license applications can be reviewed in light of basin-wide issues and policies.
Individuals who wish to be apprised of the status of particular projects may send their names and addresses, along with the name of the project of interest, to the Hydropower Coordinator, State Planning Office, Station 38, Augusta, ME 04333.
Four informal hearings were held in October 1991 in Skowhegan and Augusta concerning a previous draft of the Plan. Formal public hearings were held on the most recent draft of the Plan in Bingham on August 26, 1992, and in Augusta on August 27, 1992. The deadline for receipt of public comments was extended from September 25 until November 2, 1992 at the request of representatives of municipalities between Augusta and Waterville.