San Francisco-based Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI), a non-profit organisation, has announced the first hydro power facility to seek certification as ‘Low Impact’ under its criteria.

The certification application was received from the Fall River Rural Electric Co-operative, Island Park Hydroelectric Project (FERC no. 2973), located in Ashton, Idaho. The announcement is reported to mark a critical turning point in a longstanding national effort to develop a better assessment tool for evaluating the environmental impacts of hydropower facilities.

The LIHI was formed after two years of discussion between environmentalists, power marketers, hydro power reform organisations, and dam owners on establishing criteria that could be used to designate hydro power facilities as low impact. The Institute’s criteria cover eight different aspects of hydro power operations, ranging from water flows to fish impacts to recreational uses; and require supporting evidence from local resource agencies with regulatory oversight over the facility.

Over 20 environmental and water groups from around the country have signed on in support of the LIHI programme and approach. Organisations that helped establish the Institute include American Rivers, Trout Unlimited and the Center for Resource Solutions.

Certification applications and criteria, as well as other LIHI information are available at