Atlantic Salmon Federation | Conservation Law Foundation | Maine Rivers | Natural Resources Council of Maine
October 21, 2021 (Augusta, ME) – Conservation groups today asked a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction to immediately stop or curtail operations at four dams on the lower Kennebec River to protect endangered Atlantic salmon during critical fall and spring migration periods.
The legal filing requests that the Court order the owner of the four dams, Brookfield Renewable Partners, to shut down or limit its operations at three of the four dams and open up all options for salmon to safely pass during two critical time periods: October 15 to December 31, when adult salmon are migrating downstream to the Gulf of Maine after spawning; and April 1 through June 30, when young salmon are migrating downstream for the first time in their life cycle from habitat in the Sandy River.
Today’s motion for preliminary injunction was filed by the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Rivers, and Natural Resources Council of Maine, who sued Brookfield for its repeated violations of the Endangered Species Act on September 9, 2021.
Brookfield, a $60 billion multinational corporation that owns nearly 6,000 generating facilities worldwide, including 222 hydropower facilities, has been operating its four dams between Waterville and Skowhegan in violation of federal law since 2019 when its permit to kill, injure, or harm endangered Atlantic salmon expired. Since that time Brookfield has not taken steps to fix the damage posed by the dams and has proposed fish passage options that would be ineffective.
Brookfield has also refused to engage in constructive dialogue with the State and conservation groups about options for removing the dams to save Atlantic salmon and restore other sea-run fish. The small amount of electricity generated from these four dams amounts to only 0.002% of Brookfield’s generating capacity, and less than 0.5% of Maine’s electricity generation.
Brookfield’s four dams create an impenetrable barrier that blocks endangered Atlantic salmon from traveling from the Gulf of Maine to prime spawning habitat on the Sandy River. High water temperatures and predators in the impoundments behind the dams also harm salmon as they attempt to migrate back downstream to the ocean.
Brookfield operates other harmful dams on Maine rivers, including the Union River in Ellsworth, where alewife kills are routinely documented and a State Water Quality Certificate was recently denied.