Historic Dams 4&5 Eelway Passage Project - Potomac River
The United States National Park Service and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with Allegheny Energy, will undertake construction of eel passageways at historic Dam # 4 and Dam # 5 on the Potomac River in an effort to restore historic habitat of the American eel.
Dams # 4 and #5 were constructed for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to provide water for the canal, which was in operation from 1850 through 1924. Dam # 4 and Dam # 5 are owned and maintained by the National Park Service and are listed as contributing features on the National Register of Historic Places for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Maryland.
In addition to the National Park Service resources, Allegheny Energy owns and operates two historic hydroelectric generation plants, one at each dam. The hydroelectric facilities are located on the West Virginia shoreline.
The project goal is to construct eel passages that will satisfy the criteria for eel migration/monitoring, satisfy historic preservation standards for the historic dams, pose no interference to hydroelectric generation, and provide for sustainable and maintainable structures. The project was reviewed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and other applicable laws. An environmental assessment/assessment of effect was available for public review from November 23, 2009 through January 8, 2010. No public comments were received during this review period.
The National Park Service, National Capital Region, has completed its review of "Proposed Eel Ladder Construction at Dams 4 and 5 on the Potomac River. Environmental Assessment/Assessment, November 2009." A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was approved by the Regional Director on January 24, 2011.
In accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, The Maryland Historical Trust was consulted regarding Section 106 review of the project for any adverse effects the project could have on historic properties. On October 26, 2010, The Maryland Historical Trust, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized the "General Agreement Regarding Eel Ladder Construction, NPS, USFWS, and Maryland Historical Trust."
With these determinations, the project can proceed. Construction is anticipated in 2012. Upon installation, the eel migration rate will be monitored by scientists. Copies of the FONSI and the General Agreement have been attached for your information.
For further information pertaining to this project, please contact the Chief of Resources, C&O Canal NHP, 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740.