Ishpeming, MI – To address seepage around the dam, the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) says it must make improvements to the right & left embankments at the Boney Falls Hydroelectric Project. To do so, as well as to provide adequate construction access, UPPCO will reduce water levels in the reservoir.
An announcement was made last year that this work is Phase II of a two phased approach. Phase I was successfully completed in 2012 and Phase II is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
UPPCO will draw down the Boney Falls reservoir approximately 9.0 feet below its existing level. The drawdown is anticipated to begin no earlier than May 1, 2013, contingent on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and agency approval. UPPCO expects to complete the work and begin refilling the reservoir to current levels in November. The refill will be in stages to allow for monitoring of the newly constructed embankments, but ultimately how long it takes to bring the reservoir to normal levels depends on the amount of precipitation the area receives.
“We’ve been monitoring the seepage conditions and have been working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a plan for corrections,” said Virgil Schlorke, UPPCO Regional Generation Manager. “We’ll conduct the repairs as quickly and safely as we can to bring the reservoir back to provide its full recreational opportunities.”
To help reduce fishery concerns during the drawdown, UPPCO will lower the reservoir at a rate not to exceed 0.5 feet per day and UPPCO will complete stranded organism surveys until the drawdown of the reservoir is complete. Organisms identified during the surveys will be returned to the inundated portion of the reservoir. In addition, UPPCO will implement measures to reduce sediment and prevent predator fish from moving downstream.
Recreational activities at the Boney Falls Hydroelectric Project will also be affected. The boat landing on the west side of Boney Falls, the canoe portage, the downstream fishing pier, parking, restroom and carry-in boat access will all be closed, because of the drawdown and construction activities. A campground located near the boat landing will not be closed, however water recreational opportunities will be reduced.
The project is being conducted in consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.