Invasive species monitoring at hydro projects in Wisconsin improving

Posted in: Energy, Water


Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), an invasive species in Wisconsin

For many years, FERC-licensed hydroelectric projects owners in Wisconsin have been required by their FERC license to monitor and control at their hydroelectric projects. The methods recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are expensive and not effective.

The WDNR had recommended monitoring regardless of whether an invasive species was found in the area. However, their recommendation has changed from more of a data-gathering approach to more of an early detection and response approach.

This change in approach allows the licensee and the WDNR to make a practical difference regarding the spread of invasive species at hydroelectric projects. Monitoring focuses on access points with the monitoring effort limited, in most cases, to 30 minutes per access site instead of on the entire reservoir or all the project lands. Annual monitoring is still recommended, but the effort is significantly less intensive than before.

Although the WDNR requests control activities, the efforts requested pertain mostly to new occurrences where the licensee’s effort can make a difference.

The WDNR also recommends “rapid reporting” by submitting their standard form instead of the former method of requiring an annual report.  However, the WDNR still recommends a comprehensive report of monitoring results every five years.

These new recommendations are good news for Wisconsin owners of FERC-licensed dams. We believe they will be more effective in reducing the spread of invasive species and the cost to the licensee is significantly reduced.


Shawn Puzen

About the Author

Shawn Puzen is the FERC Compliance and Licensing Manager for Mead & Hunt. He has a unique blend of experience as a utility industry environmental consultant well-respected by the regulatory agencies with a solid record of performance in fulfilling federal, state and local regulatory and resource requirements. He serves as the president of the Midwest Hydro Users Group and was on the Steering Committee for the 2016 and 2017 HydroVision International Conference.

Read more posts by Shawn Puzen

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