The first small hydro project in the state of Oregon has applied for certification as a low-impact facility.PORTLAND, Oregon 2002-02-15 [SolarAccess.com] The Falls Creek project has applied for certification under the program administered by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI). The facility is a 4.3 megawatt high head, run-of-river project in the Willamette National Forest in the Oregon Cascades. When water is available, a small diversion structure directs 26 cubic feet per second of water from Falls Creek into a buried penstock before dropping 2,400 feet to a powerhouse. The project was issued an exemption from Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission in 1983. The small hydro facility received a Governor’s Energy Award in 1986, and environmental author Marc Reisner commended the project in a 1985 article. A minimum in-stream flow of 1 cfs is released to maintain habitat for trout in the bypassed reach, which comprises falls and pools. The LIHI will review any comments received by April 12, and will hire an independent technical consultant to evaluate the application, conduct inquiries, review public comments and issue a report as to whether the facility meets the Low Impact Certification Criteria. LIHI staff will also issue a report and recommendation by May. The Governing Board of LIHI will review the reports and issue a preliminary decision on certification that would be posted on the Internet. Anyone who commented on the application can appeal the decision or, if the preliminary decision is to deny certification, the applicant will be given an opportunity to correct any deficiencies. Certification means that a hydroelectric facility meets or exceeds the Low Impact Certification Criteria established by LIHI. The program addresses eight areas: river flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watershed protection, threatened & endangered species protection, cultural resource protection, recreation, and facilities recommended for removal. Certification is designed to provide consumers with assurance that a facility has impacts that are low, compared to other hydro facilities, based on objective environmental criteria. Low Impact certification generally means the facility is well sited, well operated, and exceeds current legal requirements. The Stagecoach Dam on the Yampa River in Colorado is certified under the LIHI program, and the Island Park Facility in Idaho was recently suspended.