Westfield River Dams—the Big Ones

their history and present status

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts produced a water quality assessment report on the Westfield River Watershed in 2001. At that time, there was an estimated 112 dams in the watershed  (Pietrzak 2004). Of those 112 dams, there are four hydropower dams still in use on the main stem of the Westfield River.

Two of these dams are licensed and regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – West Springfield and Woronoco.

Two of them are FERC exempt – Indian River and Crescent Mills. “While the exemptions are granted in perpetuity, under Article #2 of the exemption, the projects must comply with any terms and conditions that any federal or state fish and wildlife agency has determined are appropriate to prevent the loss of or damage to fish or wildlife resources or otherwise to carry out the purposes of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.” (2006 Report)

Three of these dams are Low Impact Hydropower Initiative (LIHI) certified – West Springfield, Woronoco and Crescent Mills.

Below the map is an outline that details the location, history, certification dates and fish passage ways of each hydropower dam on the Westfield River.

 

West Springfield Dam located in Agawam/West Springfield

  • Built in the 1892
  • Installed capacity of 1.4 megawatts
  • Owned by A&D Hydro LLC.
  • FERC License issued on 10/24/1994, expires on 9/30/2034
  • LIHI certification expires on 8/29/2020
  • Denil fish ladder for shad and eel ramp
  • Several modifications were made after 2011 to improve fish upstream and downstream passage, including a ¾” rack spacing for exclusion.

 

Woronoco Dams located in Russell

 

  • The area was developed in the 1870s for the Strathmore Paper company, which closed in 1999. The current dams on site were built in 1938 and 1950
  • Installed capacity of 2.7 megawatts
  • owned by Eagle Creek LLC
  • FERC license issued on 4/30/2002, expires on 3/31/2042
  • LIHI certification expires 1/28/2020
  • 3 eelways, ¾” rack spacing for downstream eel protection
  • Habitat for state-listed mussels, has a mussel protection plan that is followed during impoundment drawdowns

 

Indian River Dam located in Russell

  • The dam was originally built in 1909 as part of the Westfield River Paper Company, which closed in 1994.
  • Installed capacity of 1.6 megawatts
  • Owned by Eagle Creek LLC
  • FERC exemption issued on 2/23/2006
  • Not LIHI certified
  • In 2006, the FERC exemption required various studies upstream and downstream of fish passage. It is not clear what has been implemented, if anything. As of 2016, USFWS and MADFW submitted comments on a flow study, asking the company to perform the studies again.

 

Crescent (Texon) Dam located in Russell

  • Built in 1858 and added onto in 1870, originally called Chapin and Gould Paper Mill. The mill was then bought by Texon in 1948 which made insoles for shoes. The Texon Mill was auctioned in April of 2014 and bought by Littleville Power Co.
  • Part of a former paper mill complex
  • Installed capacity of 1.5 megawatts
  • Owned by Littleville Power Co.
  • FERC exemption issued on 5/11/1982
  • LIHI certification expires 3/13/2020
  • Upstream eel passage was required by 2016.

 

Links:

http://www.eaglecreekre.com/facilities/operating-facilities/westfield-river-ma

http://www.sec.state.ma.us/mhc/mhcpdf/townreports/ct-valley/rus.pdf

http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2014/04/former_texon_mill_in_russell_too_be_auct.html

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/xg/32wqar.pdf

https://lowimpacthydro.org/

https://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/search/fercgensearch.asp