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There is a new permit as of 2 September. The 11-page new permit (Click here) was issued to Brookfield Power LLC and simultaneously provided to stakeholder representatives along with several related documents, including a 36-page “response to comments” product (Click here) which records MDE’s rationale for decisions on stakeholder comments. The new permit replaces a version which expired 1 April 2019 but was extended to cover MDE’s interactions with stakeholders, their discussions and reviews of stakeholder comments, and their own final deliberations. MDE hosted a relatively “last minute” (6 August) virtual meeting to present, in effect, an oral summary of their “response to comments”. As you know, we have been actively engaged throughout the process
The lake recreational boating issue; dock access---Water levels, of course, matter and there is an unavoidable competition for water between releases for downstream whitewater activities and river temperature control (fish health) and keeping water in the lake for recreational boating. Since 1994, permits have addressed lake recreational boating interests by establishing a Lower Rule Band (LRB) as well as an Upper Rule Band (URB). In “wet” years, all is fine and the full range of interests can be satisfied. In “dry” years, staying at or above the LRB can be threatened. Impact analysis shows that 200-350 docks will lose access in late season even at the LRB levels.
POA position---We have consistently taken the position that permit provisions should protect LRB levels, avoiding or at least minimizing any breaches during “dry” seasons. We have specifically recommended that the permit require that (1) a water level capability/model be adopted as a key tool for managing water levels, (2) this capability be used both to identify opportunities for unscheduled whitewater releases and to predict potential breaches of the LRB, and (3) a protocol be implemented to avoid or at least minimize any predicted LRB breaches. The latter would require further suspension of whitewater releases and/or suspension/modification of the so-called Temperature Enhancement Releases (TER’s), the latter executed independent of water level
Permit outcomes--- As discussed at the 19 September General Members Meeting (GMM; virtual), we have carefully reviewed the permit language and the “response to comments” document. The bottom lines are:
Further, although more a matter of principle than of enforceable provisions, we are disappointed that the new permit does not add language to explicitly recognize lake recreational boating as a priority water “use”.
Note that the “hug the URB” position does not provide a “drought protocol” per se, but it should help----making it less likely that the LRB will be breached, and keeping late season levels substantially above the LRB in moderate precipitation or “wet” years (helping with the 200-350 dock impact issue noted above).
Looking forward—We’ve made some progress, but—as they say---“you can’t win ‘em all”. However, the new permit provides for “out-of-cycle” revisions and we will be exploring what management protocol options might further protect the LRB while having fair and acceptable impacts on other stakeholders. Further, we will be monitoring water level management---and the use of the required predictive capability—as the next boating season progresses.
Property Owners' Association of Deep Creek Lake, PO Box 618, McHenry MD 21541
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