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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
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Socioeconomic Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce socioeconomic impacts from low-head hydropower development.

The economic effects of a low-head hydropower project can be positive effects of increases in employment and local revenue whereby few, if any, mitigation measures may be necessary. However, in some situations, existing infrastructure and social services are inadequate to meet the needs of large workforces that are not local to the area. This is especially true on tribal lands, where there can be both cultural differences and disparities among incomes, education, and access to basic needs, such as running water and electricity. The following mitigation measures may be applicable to avoid or reduce these impacts depending upon site- and project-specific conditions.

  • Companies could work with tribal, state, and local agencies/governments to develop community monitoring programs that would be sufficient to identify and evaluate socioeconomic impacts resulting from the low-head hydropower project. Monitoring programs should collect data reflecting economic, fiscal, and social impacts of the development at both the tribal, state, and local level. Parameters to be evaluated could include impacts on local labor and housing markets, local consumer product prices and availability, local public services (e.g., police, fire, and public health), and educational services. Programs could also monitor indicators of social disruption (e.g., crime, alcoholism, drug use, and mental health) and the effectiveness of community welfare programs in addressing these problems.
  • Companies could work with tribal, state, and local agencies to develop community outreach programs that would help communities adjust to changes triggered by the low-head hydropower project. Such programs could include any of the following activities:
    • Establishing vocational training programs for the local workforce to promote development of skills required by the low-head hydropower facility;
    • Developing instructional materials for use in area schools to educate the local communities on the low-head hydropower facility;
    • Supporting community health screenings; and
    • Providing financial support to local libraries for development of information repositories on low-head hydropower. Electronic repositories established by the operators could also be of great value.