Regional Recreation Updates

Rapid River Whitewater Release Update

August 6 –  Due to the severe drought conditions and regulatory agency requests, the August whitewater releases for the Rapid River are canceled.  Portions of New Hampshire and Maine, which include the Upper Androscoggin reservoir region, remain in severe drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.   More information related to these conditions and the cancellation of the August whitewater releases can be found here.

 

Rapid River Whitewater Release Update 

July 8 – The region continues to endure significant drought conditions.  Unfortunately, recent rains were very localized and did not significantly impact the storage facilities. According to the Drought Monitor update on July 8,  the majority of the watershed region is currently experiencing severe drought conditions.   Future precipitation will be required to improve watershed conditions.

Due to these abnormal operating conditions (drought), Brookfield White Pine Hydro (BWPH) has received agency requests from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) to cancel whitewater releases at Middle Dam (Rapid River) in order to conserve as much water as possible for fisheries, wildlife, and overall resource protections. In response to the conditions and agency requests, BWPH will be canceling whitewater releases for the month of July 2021 at Middle Dam (Rapid River) in order to conserve as much water as possible for fisheries, wildlife, and overall resource protections. Additional cancellations are possible if conditions remain unchanged. The Water Quality Certificate of the FERC License allows for this action under the current extreme emergency conditions and requests received from the appropriate state agencies (MDIFW and MDEP) and federal agencies (USFWS).

These flow cancellations will also be updated on the Safewater.com website.  We will continue to update all stakeholders on future conditions.

 

 

Middle Dam Update 

June 18 – Please be advised for the public boat launches on Richardson Lake, small watercrafts such as canoes and kayaks are best suited for the Mill Brook and Southarm boat launches.

Under the license and Settlement Agreement requirements and due to the continuation of abnormally dry conditions, the whitewater releases for the Rapid River will be reduced to a maximum of 1300 cfs for the weekends of July 17 and 24 and August 7 and 14 with no scheduled releases for Friday, July 16 and Friday, August 13.   Brookfield White Pine Hydro consulted with and notified the state and federal resource agencies of these changes.

Currently, no further changes are proposed for releases on the Rapid River. Additionally, no changes in the release schedule are proposed for the Magalloway River at this time.  The long-term release schedule has been updated and is available on https://www.safewaters.com/home.

As of June 17, The Maine and New Hampshire counties within the Androscoggin watershed region are classified under moderate drought conditions.   Historical data and the latest drought information in Maine are available here: https://www.drought.gov/states/maine.

We will continue to follow the license requirements as well as the Androscoggin River Storage Projects Settlement Agreement.  We will also continue to work with the state and federal resources agencies and the various stakeholder parties within the Androscoggin River watershed.

Upper & Middle Update 

June 7 – Brookfield White Pine Hydro submitted a letter to the FERC and agencies on May 26, 2021 informing them that the Northeast region is experiencing abnormally dry hydrologic conditions that may affect project operations. In an attempt to curtail low elevation levels at Richardson Lake, Brookfield reduced flow to 310 cfs at the Upper and Middle Dams with the support of the MDEP and MDIFW as well as RLHT.

BWPH did submit a request to the agencies to release water from Upper Dam to Middle Dam; however, that request was denied by the MDEP and MDIFW due to concerns that “if drought conditions persist, in water level conditions that cannot recover enough to support access to spawning tributaries in Mooselookmeguntic Lake for native wild fish in the fall and could result in loss of an entire year-class of fish. Further, Mooselookmeguntic Lake loons are shoreline nesters that may suffer nest abandonment if water levels drop too much or too quickly.”

Brookfield Renewable will continue to keep agencies, municipalities, and stakeholders informed of these ongoing conditions. As always, we are striving to meet our license-required obligations to prevent adverse impacts to the environment, public boat launches, residential docks, and general recreational access.

 

Memorial Day Weekend Update – Rangeley Region

May 29 –Brookfield Renewable is advising the public that current and anticipated weather conditions indicate that area reservoirs, including Middle Dam, Upper Dam, and Aziscohos dam elevations may be lower than normal for the 2021 open water season. Without above-average precipitation, there are likely to be cascading impacts on reservoir releases, public recreation, and elevation requirements which may last through the entire 2021 open water season.

As of May 26, Aziscohos Lake is approximately three feet below normal due to the lack of snowpack and dry conditions. Upper Dam elevation on May 26, is 1.2 feet below normal and Middle Dam is approximately 6 feet below normal. While below-average snowpack and the abnormally dry spring conditions predominantly resulted in a lack of spring refill at Mooselookmeguntic and Richardson Lakes, other extenuating circumstances such as necessary construction efforts in the region that were scheduled with the intention of minimizing impacts to stakeholders have also contributed to the impacted lake level elevations. The provisions of the 1998 “Upper Androscoggin River Storage Projects Settlement Agreement” require Upper and Middle reservoirs (operated jointly) to revert to minimum flow requirements and requires full elevation targets to be first met at Upper Dam before Middle Dam.

A reservoir and operation of a hydro project are subject to natural hydrological conditions in addition to routine and nonroutine maintenance and construction projects that can limit recreation for camp owners and other recreation-goers. We fully understand the limitations and the inconveniences created by these conditions and we will continue to keep you apprised of ongoing developments as we work through these low flow requirements.

Agencies have been advised of these conditions. Click here for more information.

Spring Recreation Update 

April 20, 2021 – In general, for the Rangeley region, the winter brought below-average snowpack and we are currently experiencing the ongoing challenges of abnormally dry spring conditions.  Compared to previous years, ice out in the Rangeley region is running an average of two to three weeks ahead for the 2021 season.  As you may know with early spring and early ice out, many camp owners and recreation goers want to get an early start to the season.  With below-average snowpack and expanding drought conditions, future precipitation will be necessary to improve watershed conditions.

Middle Dam Bridge Notice – Richardson Lake

Brookfield Renewable wants to inform the public of possible bridge access delays at the Middle Dam hydro facility at Richardson Lake in North Oxford, Maine.

Due to scheduled maintenance from March 1-12, access to the Middle Dam bridge will be restricted with short delays for incoming traffic.  For the safety of the workers and the public at large, please anticipate some short-term delays for bridge crossing during daylight hours, Monday through Friday. For snowmobilers and other vehicle operators, please use extra caution and reduce speed when entering this area to ensure safe access and passage.

For public safety information near dams, go to https://safewaters.com or e-mail Maine.Inquries@brookfieldrenewable.com.

 

Temporary Closure of Fishing Piers 

September 2020 – Due to an incident involving a safety railing at Middle Dam, a safety assessment determined that it is necessary to temporarily close access to the fishing piers for the time being. This closure is unrelated to the ongoing repair project and was not a previously planned event. While we understand the timing of this closure is inopportune, please be assured this is a precautionary measure intended to protect the safety of the public. We will communicate a timeline for restoring access to the fishing piers once a repair plan is finalized for the railing system in accordance with safety and engineering standards. Access is expected to be restored before the 2021 recreation season.

 

 

Possible Middle Dam Bridge Delays 

Feb. 2020- Brookfield Renewable wants to inform the public of possible bridge access delays at the Middle Dam hydro facility at Richardson Lake in North Oxford, Maine.

Due to scheduled maintenance from March 2 through 31, access to the Middle Dam bridge will be restricted with short delays for incoming traffic.  For the safety of the workers and the public at large, please anticipate some short-term delays for bridge crossing during daylight hours, Monday through Saturday. For snowmobilers and other vehicle operators, please use extra caution and reduce speed when entering this area to ensure safe access and passage.