The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requires renewal of hydropower dam licenses approximately every 30 years to help evaluate many factors associated with a dam’s continued operation. When it came time to relicense the Ford Lake Dam, Ypsilanti Township called on Barr.
The relicensing process took approximately five years. To build consensus on the licensing conditions and identify potential concerns, Barr began by soliciting input from stakeholders—many opposed to dam relicensing. Stakeholders included nearby residents, river advocacy organizations, and regulatory agencies. Based on this input, we collected data on the water quality and aquatic vegetation in the upstream reservoir and downstream Huron River; we assessed the fisheries and mussel populations; and we studied the wildlife and botanical resources in the surrounding riparian lands. Cultural studies revealed the powerhouse qualified for the National Register of Historic Places.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, state Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used results from the studies to propose license conditions for the facility’s continued operation. Barr helped the township negotiate license conditions that would protect stakeholder interests at an affordable cost to the township. Since FERC’s issuing of the license, Barr has been working with Ypsilanti Township to implement and monitor the license's mandated conditions.
Barr continues to act as the Township’s Dam Safety Engineer. We work closely with the Township preparing their annual FERC Dam Safety Surveillance and Monitoring Report and Plan updates. We facilitate the Tabletop and Functional Exercises of the Emergency Action Plan (EAP), and assist the Township with annual updates to their EAP.