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

The hydrological and site-specific conditions of the environment must be characterized to determine site suitability.

Before a low-head hydropower facility can be planned and built, various aspects of the site must studied, including:

  • Topography and geomorphology of the site,
  • Water resources and the site's generating potential,
  • Basic layout of the facility on the site,
  • Turbine and generator selection,
  • Ecology on and around the site, and
  • Socioeconomic impacts of the project.

The following factors could affect whether an environmental impact would occur and whether it would be considered an adverse effect:

  • Acreage — Site evaluation activities would include an extended area, but only drilling would cause a disturbance to the site. Drilling activities would only involve a few acres. Remote sites could require construction of an access road.
  • Emissions — Emissions would be limited to those caused by vehicles and possibly drill rigs, and would include fugitive dust, vehicular, and equipment emissions.
  • Waste Generation — Site evaluation crews would produce small amounts of waste. Drilling wastes could also be generated.
  • Water Needs — Water needs would be negligible. Any water that might be required for drilling operations could be obtained from the river or trucked to the site.
  • Workforce — A small crew would be needed to conduct field surveys and to conduct any drilling required. Typically, no personnel support facilities would be required.
  • Time and Materials — Field characterization surveys could take several days or more per sampling season. No material would be required beyond those necessary to conduct the surveys or for drilling.
  • Utility Requirements — There would be no utility requirements. Drill rigs would be operated by diesel engines.