SCE&G's Lake Murray Hydro Federal Relicensing
Efforts throughout the relicensing process were well documented in position statements on the previous TU website. Hopefully those can be maintained on the new website, or possibly the new TU “COMMUNITY” site, as they state many of the key principles of TU conservation, and represent over 25 years of chapter advocacy. In particular the Settlement Agreement is documented and needs to be understood and needs continued vigilance to ensure that its provisions are followed. Mike Waddell joined in the process to bring his geologist's expertise to the IFIM and to join me as a TU 'tag-team' in trying to attend the many, many stakeholder meetings, often several a week for several years! Don Eng provided position reviews and also key testimony on our safety concerns. He described his personal ordeal when rising waters swept him downstream several hundred yards into tree branches and eventual safety thanks to some help from kayakers. We insisted on ramping of high releases to provide more time for river exits, but that technique was not incorporated into the Settlement Agreement - one of several reasons we did not sign the agreement as is also documented on the chapter website.
Also, during the relicensing TU opposed the floating barrier placed across the Saluda River at the old railroad trestle approximately .4 mile below the Lake Murray Dam. Done in the name of Homeland Security, that move unnecessarily 'stole' over a third of a mile of public water. The DNR Director was furious and sent several letters to remove the barrier, as did we; but, SCE&G ignored them all having the law on their side as they have a DNR sign-off from 2004 that was acknowledged was a mistake in granting... In any case, SCE&G has been adamant that they would not ask Homeland Security to remove the barrier, and related they would allow their employees, contractors, and guests to boat and fish that area from a utility company boat landing. It has been suggested that DNR may could make that stretch of river a fish sanctuary using the new Fisheries regulations that go into effect July 1, 2012. TU needs to continue to push this issue as a fish sanctuary makes sense to protect fisheries and not allow fishing on a public river in an area not accessible to the public. It would certainly help the stripers in the summer when that beleaguered fishery is up there in heavy numbers, but trout and other species would definitely benefit too. Otherwise, the public has lost access to a third of a mile of a river for security reasons that do not pass any 'common sense' test as the dam is extremely vulnerable with the heavy highway traffic. And utility employees and guests will have exclusive fishing rights to what should be public water.