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Old 04-16-2015, 12:06 PM
vermonster vermonster is offline
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Default Balsams Andro Water Withdrawal

I'm surprised this hasn't been discussed here, but pleased to see the issue is being raised in other venues.

Concerns raised over Balsams plan to pull water out of river

Published Date Wednesday, 15 April 2015 21:26
Written by Barbara Tetreault

ANDROSCOGGIN VALLEY The developers of the Balsams Resort want to pull water out of the Androscoggin River for snowmaking. But questions have been raised about the impact of the withdrawals on the river's ecosystem and hydroelectric generation.
Dixville Capital LLC., has applied to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services for permission to withdraw up to 2.9 million cubic feet of water daily from the river on an intermittent basis between Nov. 1 and March 15. The water would be taken out of the river 1,7000 feet downstream of the Errol Dam and pumped approximately ten miles to the ski area in Dixville. More from Berlin Daily Sun: http://berlindailysun.com/index.php?...103&Itemid=442

I have no idea whether either building the pipeline (across multiple important streams in the RT 26 corridor) or withdrawing the water at a time of year that traditionally has low flows and thus risk of eggs/fry freezing outright or being subjected to frazil ice are concerns.

The article also raises the risk of additional flooding, and I don't know if that is also a risk to fish.

Given the wild enthusiasm for the project that seems to be coming from elected officials in the North Country, I'm guessing state biologists have been told not to stand in the way. I hope somebody is taking a close look.

Does anyone here have more details?

VT
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Old 04-16-2015, 07:07 PM
bridgeman bridgeman is offline
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Default Examples from the past

Two very similar things have happen in the past and fishermen got screwed both times. A friend of governor John Sunnnu, I think his name was Bob Shaw, decided he could make a few bucks by rebuilding Pontook dam. They talked about the marsh above and the ducks and how great it would be for jobs. They didn't really mention too much about dewatering 8 miles of some of the best fishing in the Northeast by sending most of the river down a pipe. The fishing at Pontook has never recovered. Yes the dam was in bad shape. Did we have to kill 8 miles of river to fix it?
The other was Errol dam. The river below the dam in the 80's was a series of pools and rapids leading into bay. It was by far the best place for big fish on the river with lots of huge rocks and chutes with lots of holding cover. It also had spots where you wade out and stretch your back cast to hit those spots. One May morning I arrived to find a big featureless ditch with no cover and all the pools removed to gain a couple of feet of drop for low head hydro. It was shocking to see the damage done over the winter. The drag lines killed the best fishing spot on the river. I never saw anything in the paper or any notice of any kind. It was all very quietly done in the winter. Now they even have buoys at the 'steps" and you can't even get a good drift at that spot.
So when the politically connected decide to line their pockets at the expence of the environment in the state we fishermen are screwed. Northen Pass, the Sunapee ski area expansion all fall into this taking of public resources for private gain. They tell us it's all about jobs and the economy. I call B.S. it's all about making rich people more money. In this case the morons at the state house are even covering the loan to build the thing just in case some one fails to make money. This will go through like grain through goose and we will get what comes out the other side.

Last edited by bridgeman; 04-16-2015 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 04-17-2015, 12:04 PM
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Traditionally December is lowest flow--assume average of 1500 CFS. The 2.9 million CF/day is approximately 66.5 acre ft/day. 1500 CFS is approximately 2975 acre ft/day. Balsams would be drawing approximately 2.2% of the daily flow, or in other terms, reduce the flow immediately downstream of the draw site from 1500 CFS to 1466 CFS.
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Old 04-18-2015, 07:04 AM
vermonster vermonster is offline
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Remember the withdrawal occurs immediately downstream of the Errol dam. This means the flows do not follow historical norms of free flowing rivers. Looking at the last couple years of data from the USGS for Errol
http://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/...agency_cd=USGS

suggests that the low flows are typically in November and March.

I have no idea whether the reduction has an impact, and suspect the devil is in the details. For example, is the permit language such that if Errol decreases flow to a very low level (for example to make emergency repairs), snowmaking withdrawal will decrease or stop. One day of very low flow during freezing temperatures could result an a major loss of an entire year class of fish.

My comment is not that building this pipeline and withdrawing water is bad, it's that from the outside it appears everyone has drunk the Kool-Aid and the project is not receiving sufficient review and oversight.

If Brookfield is concerned enough about reduced flows impacting their income, then I'd like to know what knowledgeable, independent professionals have assessed impacts to fisheries. I'd also think the folks who live along Clear Stream, the Mohawk River, etc. would like to know what happens when all that additional snow melts in the spring...
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:05 AM
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Default Pipeline

Thanks for bringing up this topic vermonster. Good discussion as far as it went. While I hadn't discovered the Andro yet in the time frames that Bridgeman points to as examples, I have no doubt those observations are accurate. It's the way things always go. The dam rebuild at Upper Dam in Maine has currently torn up what was the past there. The end result of that work will be determined in future decades. It's going to be a while before we know.

That's my point. We won't know how this pipeline changes the Androscoggin River and surrounding watershed until the deed is done. At that point it's too late. In the mean time the rich get richer, the environment suffers, and fishing men and women have less good fishing and a few more low wage jobs but not much else. Progress.

Is this the only way to supply water to the ski area? Does the ski area HAVE to be the biggest in the northeast? Is the economic impact to north country families that good? Doesn't seem like it. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope so.

I'd like to know more about the approval process here too. The Andro is worth protecting.
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:20 PM
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I think if somebody was really concerned about this they'd call their congressman or senator and ask when the E.P.A. was starting their environmental impact study on this proposal. The Army Corps. of Engineers are also just a phone call away, and they're nice people to deal with.

Maybe the local TU chapter can take a look at this, or perhaps a phone call to any number of sympathetic environmental advocates, (NH Chapter of The Sierra Club, for one), would get the ball rolling in the right direction.

There's no reason to let the ski area cause a fish kill. There's no reason for fishermen to hog the river for themselves. Both co-exist peacefully just about everywhere else.

"The greatest good for the greatest number."
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:38 PM
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An interesting article from 2010 on Mr. Otten and his financial past. Now our Legislature is debating floating a 28 million dollar bod to him and his two business partners.

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/pnms-otten-031010
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:57 PM
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Default Balsams Andro Water Withdrawal

As noted by several there is legitimate reason to be very concerned about this project being over hyped and over sold. Les Otten's track record with American Ski Company needs to be considered in evaluating his credibility. Hopefully when the details are under review and made public enough groups/individuals will take the time to provide input. We need to see the science behind the project. Withdrawals from streams/rivers during the winter are not good as the flows are typically at there lowest during the year. In Vermont the Sugarbush Ski Resort years ago had a proposal for withdrawals for snowmaking from the Mad River that went nowhere because the withdrawals would have jeopardized the aquatic life in the river. They could not provide any scientific evidence supporting their claim of no harm.
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Old 04-21-2015, 06:05 PM
bridgeman bridgeman is offline
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Default Cashing out

The locals are all for it. This thing will get fast tracked. Several of them will be cashing out long held properties. I'm equally concerned about the pipeline and the siltation and disturbance to the environment that will cause.
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bridgeman View Post
"Examples from the past"
Quote:
Originally Posted by bridgeman View Post
So when the politically connected decide to line their pockets at the expence of the environment in the state we fishermen are screwed. Northen Pass, the Sunapee ski area expansion all fall into this taking of public resources for private gain. They tell us it's all about jobs and the economy. I call B.S. it's all about making rich people more money. In this case the morons at the state house are even covering the loan to build the thing just in case some one fails to make money. This will go through like grain through goose and we will get what comes out the other side.
This goes way beyond fishermen getting screwed. I was born and raised in Berlin, and have fished the Andro since the early 60's. Considering the condition of both Berlin and the Andro, I can tell you all about what a farce both of their management has been. Beginning with Berlin/Milan community, when the honorable (?) Judd Gregg totally disregarded the community's wishes and put in not just one.. but TWO prisons, between the two towns, the community’s fate was sealed. It's been a steep downhill slide ever since. For someone from outside looking in, the picture may not seem as bleak. But from the perspective of someone who was born and raised there, and who has been connected to the community for over 50 years, I can tell you with 100% accuracy that the state and fed pens have greatly contributed to the ruination of a once vibrant and healthy community. The local papers' police blotters and court notes bear this out. Berlin insiders know that the city changed drastically and in short order after the introduction of the prisons.

For the community... loss of many acres of prime real estate, and loss of a favorite X-C ski trail system -- traded for two incredible eye-sores on the local landscape. As an added benefit, a whole new population of folks who followed the incarcerated to Berlin. But, for those who were involved in the closed-door discussions, and the dictation that the prisons would come to Berlin, the kickbacks doled out, those folks are long gone. And who is it that's left dealing with the fallout? Does Judd Gregg have a summer home in Berlin?

"Jobs" you say? The higher-paying jobs these institutions provided were filled from outside the community. The lower paying jobs are what were made available to area residents.

Fishing the Andro... now this is where my blood pressure begins to rise. I remember full well what the old Pontook Dam area was like. When was the last time that an 8 - 10 lb. trout came from that area? I began fly fishing there in 1965. Though I didn't take any fish of that caliber as a nine year old boy, -- I can tell you when they disappeared.

Errol Dam... one of my buddies took a 9 lb. brown from a canoe at the base of the rapids above Braggs Bay in 1974. I saw this fish with my own eyes at Stanley Albert's taxidermy shop in Berlin. When was the last time someone took such a behemoth on the Andro? anywhere on the Andro?

So many hair-brained changes have been done and allowed on the Andro that it no longer enjoys the renown it once had. I remember seeing license plates from all over parked along the river where folks were fishing. Gone are the huge brookies that once bred naturally in the Andro and the browns of Pontook. F&G tries to create an illusion of the past with occasional stocking of hatchery broodstock brookies. But this is artificial, and NOT conservation, not in the least. Conservation would have ensured that the Pontook Hydro and Errol Dam would have been responsibly constructed with minimal impacts to such incredible habitat and fish populations. Conservation would have also ensured that the persons who illegally introduced bass and pike to Lake Umbagog and the Andro would be prosecuted, and that the damage would be remediated. BUT, seen as a means of generating new revenue through increased license sales, and maybe a convenient excuse to get out of doing the remediation, the state turned a blind eye, and the damage continues still today. Careless disregard for environment comes from a self-serving, business-as-usual, what's-in-it-for-me mindset. What about maintaining biological and ecological integrity? Where are the Teddy Roosevelts of our age?

THIS is CONSERVATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=U_rjouN65-Q

Today, decisions are prearranged behind closed doors. Public hearings are but a formality. Because decisions have most always been predetermined, the words of sincere and knowledgeable folks fall on deaf ears. Heads may nod, and a few questions might be asked, but in the long run, the prevailing thought is "we're the trained professionals... we know better".Decisions are set in stone before public sentiment is ever invited.

If the Nobles from the Balsams want snow on top of "their" mountain, then they should drain that lake out front of "their" castle. I can tell you what their response would be: "Oh, but that would detract...". So what... "much better to further degrade the Andro, after all, it's already been trashed." ??? Sorry about the rant, but as you can see, I'm deeply grieved and totally frustrated by all of the selfishness, mismanagement and disregard for the North Country.

It's just the usual state of affairs...

Last edited by FurFace; 04-21-2015 at 09:12 PM.
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