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Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project

Wildlife friendly hydroelectric project

Brookfield Renewable’s efforts were honoured by the National Hydropower Association, which awarded it with a 2019 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters award in the Recreational, Environmental, and Historical Enhancement category for their installation of safe passage for migratory fish species at the 28.6 megawatt Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project in New York. Brookfield installed innovative fishways, which use the natural terain of the river and shoreline.

Addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals

2000

migratory fish recorded over a five day period

28.6

megawatts

1000

homes powered annually

“We had a great consultation process before we broke ground with the municipality and the residents that will be looking at this every day and will be affected by its use.”

Sachin Shah, CEO, Brookfield Renewable Power

Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project and its nature-like fishway to transport migratory fish species

At the 28.6-megawatt Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project, Brookfield Renewable Power has installed fish passage systems on its Eel Weir and Heuvelton Dams in order to facilitate the free movement of fish through the dam structures.

Normally, fish travel through ladders or elevators and whilst effective, fish now have a state of the art option that provides a more natural method of passage.

The innovative fishways use the natural terrain of the river and shoreline to emulate natural river channels that accommodate a broad range of fish species and sizes. They also provide a riffle-pool habitat for many aquatic organisms.

Situation

Hydropower owners and operators are always seeking for most efficient measures to minimize impacts of the facilities on environment in general and fish habitats in particular.

Traditionally, fish move through ladders or elevators, which have proven to be successful and effective means of fish passage. New technology, however, has eligible hydro generators considering fishways, which provide a more-natural fish passage option.

Action

Brookfield Renewable has installed innovative, nature-like fishways at the 28.6 megawatt Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project to support the safe passage of migratory fish species. The innovative fishways use the natural terrain of the river and shoreline to emulate natural river channels that accommodate a broad range of fish species and sizes. They also provide a riffle-pool habitat for many aquatic organisms.

The project represented the first fishway installed in New York and the second in the entire Northeast of the USA. There were no established guidelines for construction, so it required high levels of planning, consulting, and ingenuity as well as cooperation with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

Financing Model: Privately Funded

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license non-federal hydroelectric projects under the Federal Power Act.

These licenses allow for the construction and operation of a hydropower project for a term of up to 50 years. This includes measures to protect the environment, as reviewed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Brookfield Asset Management operates under just such a lease and has privately funded the fishways at its dams.