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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
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Low-Head Hydropower Facility Operation: Resource Requirements and Impact Sources

Minimal land-disturbing activities are anticipated during the facility operation phase. Operations will result in impacts on other resources, including ecological, water, and visual resources.

Minimal land-disturbing activities and associated impacts are anticipated during the operation phase. Routine operations are automatic, with remote operator monitoring. Once-weekly maintenance visits would ensure safe and consistent operation. Maintenance activities could include periodic replacement of various facility components.

The following factors could give rise to environmental impacts:

  • Acreage — Disturbed land footprints during operation would account for a small fraction of the total area of the site. The remaining land area would be maintained in its natural state.
  • Emissions — Emissions would include pollutants from the operation of vehicles during weekly maintenance visits and the periodic operation of diesel-fueled emergency generators; fugitive dust from vehicle travel on unpaved roads or wind erosion from gravel surfaces; and minor release of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from on-site storage of diesel fuel and various maintenance and cleaning operations.
  • Waste Generation — Waste produced during operation would include material that settles in the forebay or is trapped by the trashrack. Other potential wastes generated would include small amounts of gear oil and lubricating oils; transmission and glycol-based coolants and lubricants; and paints or coatings for corrosion control.
  • Water Needs — The primary water requirement is the river water needed to operate the turbine. Small amounts of water would be needed for routine maintenance; potable water would be required for the inspection and maintenance workforce. Water for consumption would likely be brought to the site.
  • Workforce — Operations would be monitored and controlled remotely. A small maintenance crew would visit the site weekly.
  • Utility and Emergency Power Requirements — Although the primary purpose of a hydropower plant is to deliver power to a distribution or transmission grid, it may also draw power from the grid. To ensure safe shutdown of all systems in the event of grid connection interruption, and to ensure the continued operation of safety-related devices, the facility would normally be equipped with emergency AC power generation, typically in the form of a diesel-fueled emergency generator.