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The dams that create Lakes Keowee and Jocassee are owned by Duke Energy and create the reservoirs that provide nuclear and hydroelectric power generation capability, drinking water supplies, recreational opportunities, and a large number of lakeshore home sites. The management of these reservoirs has significant implications on quality of life and conservation across the Upstate and is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC issues permits for 30-50 years, so relicensing efforts are a rare occurrence.
Along with 16 additional stakeholder parties, Upstate Forever participated in the five-year Keowee-Toxaway relicensing process and played a crucial role in ensuring the protection and mitigation of aquatic resources.
On August 16, 2016, FERC issued the New License for the Keowee Toxaway Hydroelectric Project, which will guide reservoir operations until 2046. Upstate Forever was instrumental in ensuring protection of our natural resources throughout the project area. Highlights of the benefits provided by the New License include:
$1,000,000 to establish a Habitat Enhancement Program.
$1,000,000 to establish a Source Water Protection Program.
Improved and Continued Recreational Access: New access areas, improved facilities and parking at existing facilities, and continuation of existing public access at Devils Fork and Keowee-Toxaway State Parks.
Improved Support for Litter Control: Duke will continue support for semi-annual litter collection at the project and will provide $10,000 per year to both Oconee and Pickens Counties to support school education programs on environmental stewardship and litter prevention.
$600,000 funding for the Oconee County Conservation Bank
Improved facilities at Sassafras Mountain (construction of restrooms, interpretive signage, and an observation tower)
Improved drought response practices to conserve reservoir levels and provide adequate downstream flows.
Created “Follow the Water” procedure for dock owners to keep their dock usable during droughts.
For more information about Upstate Forever’s work on the Keowee-Toxaway FERC relicensing, contact Chris Starker, Land Conservation Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.