The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to retrofit Clark Canyon Dam, the outflow for the state’s famous Beaverhead River, into a hydroelectric facility. However, some organizations, like the Upper Missouri Waterkeeper (UMW), say the proposition, outlined in a 401 water quality certification, doesn’t do enough to protect the Beaverhead’s water quality or fishery.
“Any applicant for a federal license to conduct any activity resulting in a discharge to local waterways—such as a license for a new hydropower facility—triggers a State’s authority under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) to condition that activity to protect local rivers and water quality,” UMW posted on its website. “Here, we have a proposal to retrofit Clark Canyon Dam—essentially the headwaters of the Beaverhead River—into a hydroelectric facility, a Project that triggers Montana’s 401 certification authority. Why? Because hydropower discharges water that can cause big water quality and fisheries problems on rivers and, likewise, old dams like Clark Canyon create other water quality problems downstream.”
There is a public comment period open now until July 5th, and the UMW has posted instructions for submitting thoughts, and created an online petition, both available on its website.