Union River petition

To the Editor:

On Feb., 9 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued public notice of a new license application for the Union River Dams. This notice starts a 60 day clock that is the last chance for citizens, municipalities, state and federal agencies to comment on or protest the details of this license application.

The license proposed by the dam owners will not stop the fish kills that are documented in downtown Ellsworth each spring and fall as alewives and eels try to head out to sea. It does not offer any new proposal to help native fish returning to spawn in the Union River. It does nothing to change the way water levels are managed at Graham Lake.

Over the last two years, we have gone into our communities around the Union River watershed and worked with residents to understand what they want from a new license on their river. We’ve gathered over 500 signatures on a petition that has three simple requests.

The petitioners want safe up and downstream fish passage at both dams. We want Graham Lake managed as a healthy lake. We want the state to use its power to issue an effective 401 water quality certificate.

The state of Maine has a recent history of waiving its right to require dam owners to respect fish and local landowners. We are asking, with hundreds of stakeholders behind us, that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) exercise its authority to issue a 401 water quality certificate for the Union River Dams. If they fail to do this April 9, it could be 40 years before they get another chance.

Please contact DEP Commissioner Mercer and encourage him to issue a water quality certificate that respects the Union River. Contact FERC Nicholas Palso and ask for a better deal for the Union River.

Dwayne Shaw

Downeast Salmon Federation

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