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November 17th, 2021
The Chattooga River is a National Wild and Scenic River that flows from North Carolina and becomes the boundary of South Carolina and Georgia. The river attracts tens of thousands of people each year for rafting, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and hiking.
The Chattooga flows wild and free for 58 miles and then comes to an abrupt end in Lake Tugalo, a reservoir created with construction of the Tugalo Dam built 100 years ago which is owned by Georgia Power. The 600-acre lake buries the river in a beautiful and stunning gorge. Many people have dreamed about what the Chattooga was like before the dam was built.
These dreams are now leading to serious efforts by American Rivers, Chattooga Conservancy, American Whitewater, Naturaland Trust, Georgia Canoeing Association, and Upstate Forever to advocate for removing the Tugalo dam and restoring the Chattooga Gorge and free-flowing condition of the river. Removal of the dam would also restore nearly two miles of the lower Tallulah River.
The case for potential dam removal is quite compelling:
The Tugalo dam and hydroelectric facility is up for relicensing in 2036. Upstate Forever and partners reached out to Georgia Power just this year to propose a partnership to study the merits and potential of removing the dam and replacing lost capacity with a solar project. Instead of agreeing to meet and study the issue further, Georgia Power double-downed by filing an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to amend its license to allow the expenditure of approximately $25 million to “modernize” the Tugalo facility.
If approved, this level of investment would make future relicensing of the Tugalo facility very likely, which in turn would result in the dam remaining in place for at least 50 more years.
FERC is accepting comments on Georgia Power’s application to “modernize” the Tugalo facility, but comments must be submitted by November 26, 2021.
To comment: Visit ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx, and fill out your contact information. You will then receive an email taking you to a commenting page. Enter Docket Number P-2354-152, select the docket, then fill out your comment and submit!
Tell FERC that:
- You are opposed to Georgia Power receiving approval for the licensing amendment they are requesting.
- Georgia Power should be required to administer a comprehensive study of the impacts associated with operating the facility for another 50 years, consider ALL feasible alternatives in addition to no action and an upgrade alternative that relies on such an old dam, and the potential benefits of removing the Tugalo dam.
- FERC should make no decision on Georgia Power’s application until the above study is completed.
Finally, let FERC know how you use, enjoy and appreciate the Chattooga and Tallulah Rivers and surrounding area.
We appreciate your help in restoring the Chattooga Gorge, and will keep you updated as this project progresses!