On Feb. 9, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued public notice of a new license application for the Union River dams. This notice started a 60-day clock that is the last chance for citizens, municipalities and state and federal agencies to comment on or protest the details of this license application.

The license proposed by the dam owners will not stop the fish kills that are documented in downtown Ellsworth each spring and fall as alewives and eels try to head out to sea. It does not offer any new proposal to help native fish returning to spawn in the Union River. It does nothing to change the way water levels are managed at Graham Lake.

Over the last two years, we have gone into our communities around the Union River watershed and worked with residents to understand what they want from a new license on their river. We’ve gathered over 500 signatures on a petition that has three simple requests.

The petitioners want:

Safe upstream and downstream fish passage at both dams.

Graham Lake managed as a healthy lake.

The state to use its power to issue an effective Section 401 water quality certificate.

The state has a recent history of waiving its right to require dam owners to respect fish and local landowners. With hundreds of stakeholders behind us, we are asking that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection exercise its authority to issue an effective Section 401 water quality certificate for the Union River dams. If, by April 9, they do not, it could be 40 years before they get another chance.

Please contact DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer (287-2812; [email protected], or 17 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333) and encourage him to issue a water quality certificate that respects the Union River.

Dwayne Shaw

Columbia Falls