Edwards - FERC #2389. The Augusta Hydroelectric Project, better known as the Edwards Dam, is owned and operated by the Edwards Manufacturing Company and is located on the Kennebec River between Augusta and Waterville, Maine. The project is presently rated with an installed capacity of 3.5 MW and the applicant is proposing to upgrade and expand the facility to 11.7 MW. The Edwards Dam is located in the city of Augusta and the impoundment formed by the dam extends upstream from the dam a distance of approximately 15 miles and comprises an area of approximately 1,143 acres. Existing facilities consist of a 917' long concrete-capped timber crib spillway, an 8' long gatehouse, 450' long power canal and three powerhouses. The water quality classification for most of the project impoundment is Class C. The reach of river from its confluence with Messalonskee Stream to the Sidney/Augusta town line is classified as Class B.
The expanded project will involve the construction of a new powerhouse located at the downstream end of the existing main power canal which will house one vertical Kaplan turbine and generator with a capacity of approximately 8 MW. Powerhouses 7 and 8 will be decommissioned, the new power canal widened, a new canal intake structure and new fish passage facilities constructed, repairs and improvements to the existing dam will be accomplished and present plans specify the addition of an inflatable crest control device along the entire length of the primary spillway.
Enhancements proposed by the applicant involve the construction and operation of new upstream and downstream fish passage facilities at the project. The upstream facilities as proposed consist of fish transportation channels, a central fish attraction pool, a duplex fish lift, sorting and holding tanks, and an exit channel to the power canal. The proposed downstream facilities consist of a gated concrete entrance chamber at the intake to each powerhouse and sluice pipes to tailwater. The proposed facilities are intended to provide passage for design populations of 1,548,000 alewives, 385,000 American shad, and 7,500 Atlantic salmon annually.
The State of Maine has taken the position that removal of the Edwards Dam is necessary to achieve the State's goals for restoration of the Kennebec's fisheries and recreational resources. The State resource agencies recommend that the no dam alternative be considered and that dam removal studies be conducted.
The State resource agencies find that the applicant has failed to address the State's goal of restoring striped bass, rainbow smelt, Atlantic sturgeon, and shortnose sturgeon to their historical range which includes the river segment from Augusta to Waterville. The applicant has failed to address upstream and downstream passage requirements for striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, and rainbow smelt, in addition to American shad, Atlantic salmon, and alewives. It is likely that the Federally endangered shortnose sturgeon migrate to the Edwards Dam and potentially spawn in the immediate area. Field studies should be conducted to determine if shortnose sturgeon are spawning in the project area. American shad, smelt, striped bass, and the sturgeon should be used as study species to determine the impacts of the proposed redevelopment on the habitat between the dam and the Memorial Bridge. Field studies should be designed with input from the fishery agencies to determine if, when, and where striped bass, smelt and Atlantic sturgeon spawn in the project area and to determine what impact the diversion of flows will have on this life stage of these species. The applicant should determine if smelt utilize the project area prior to spawning. The applicant should clarify that proposed techniques for holding and sorting of trapped fish is effective in preventing upstream passage of undesirable species. Studies should also determine the effect of the proposal and the no dam alternative on the abundance of brown trout. Detailed soil erosion and sedimentation plans for project redevelopment are also recommended.
Assuming that Edwards Dam is not removed, the State also recommends studies on recreational use below the dam to address fishing opportunity for striped bass, American shad, Atlantic salmon, brown trout and smallmouth bass. The State contends that the projected increase in recreational use of the impoundment is underestimated and that additional recreational access should be planned. A portage trail around the dam is warranted and consistent with other hydroelectric projects on the Kennebec. Consultation meetings with the Bureau of Parks and Recreation (BPR) and towns on the impoundment resulted in the following specific proposals being recommended:
1. Development of riverfront trail and picnic area at the existing Sidney boat launch.
2. Primitive campsites at Seven Mile Island.
3. Park and handicapped fishing access at Old Mill site in Augusta.