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Visual Resources Mitigation Measures

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

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce visual impacts of a project depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts to visual resources are related to the project activity (e.g., land disturbance), amount and types of equipment, machinery, and vehicles, standing structures, and project emissions (e.g., fugitive dust, air releases). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when taken into account during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and with stakeholders. Conduct these consultations as part of the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Involve the public in decision making regarding visual site design elements for a proposed low-head hydropower project. Possible approaches include conducting public forums; offering tours; and using computer simulation and visualization techniques in public presentations.
  • Design and construct conspicuous components of the project to harmonize with desirable or acceptable characteristics of the surrounding environment.
  • To the extent possible, site projects and their facilities away from prominent land features and outside of the viewsheds of publically accessible vantage points.
  • Bury electrical lines and pipelines on the site, if feasible, in a manner that minimizes additional surface disturbance.
  • Take advantage of both topography and vegetation as screening devices to restrict views of projects from visually sensitive areas.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a low-head hydropower project include:

  • Use fugitive dust suppression techniques to minimize impacts of vehicular traffic and wind on roads and exposed soils.

Project Phase-Specific Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures specific to a particular phase of a low-head hydropower project include:


  • Minimize disturbance and control erosion by avoiding steep slopes and by minimizing the amount of construction and ground clearing needed for roads, staging areas, and crane pads, or locate them outside the viewsheds of publically accessible vantage points and visually sensitive areas.
  • Employ dust suppression techniques in arid environments to minimize impacts of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, construction, and wind on exposed surface soils.
  • Keep equipment and vehicles within the limits of the initially disturbed areas.
  • Use efficient lighting so that the minimum amount of lighting required for safety and security is provided and so that upward light scattering is minimized.
  • Restore disturbed surfaces as closely as possible to their original contour and revegetate them immediately after or to coincide with disturbance activities whenever possible.


  • Maintain the site during operation of the facility. Inoperative or damaged equipment and poor housekeeping, in general, creates a poor image of the activity in the eyes of the public.

Decommissioning/Site Reclamation

  • Develop and implement a decommissioning plan that includes the removal of all aboveground facilities and full reclamation of the site.
  • Remove intake and tailrace structures from the river.
  • Remove any dams or weirs, unless the impoundment will be maintained.
  • Return access roads and the project site to as-near-natural contours as feasible. Revegetate all disturbed areas with plant species appropriate to the site.