OFFICIALS FROM THE US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently held an open house to listen to statements from proponents and opponents of removal of the Fort Halifax dam on the Sebasticook river in Winslow, Maine.

Under the terms of the 1998 agreement that resulted in the breaching of Edwards dam on the Kennebec river, Florida Power & Light (FPL) Energy, owner of the Fort Halifax dam, is required to build a fish lift to allow passage of sea-run fish on the Sebasticook river by 1 May 2003.

Conservation group Save Our Sebasticook (S.O.S) is trying to influence FERC’s decision to ask for the installation of fish lifts rather than remove the dams. The Kennebec Coalition, an environmental group, on the other hand, is actively seeking removal of the dams to return rivers to their original state.

This was the second meeting to provide facts, observations and opinions relating to the dam and FPL Energy’s obligation to provide fish passage for sea-run species. FPL Energy says the estimated US$4M cost of the a fish lift makes the hydro project economically unfeasible, while the dam removal alternative carries a price tag ranging from US$500,000 to US$2M.

Accordingly, FPL has filed papers with FERC seeking permission for a partial removal of the dam.

As an alternative FPL has offered an experimental fish pump as a third option to provide fish passage.

The dam, built in 1908, currently has no provisions for fish passage.