Harrisburg Hydroelectric Project—Water Quality Issues

by Daniel R. Lispi, Dep of Public Works, Harrisburg, United States,
David Burgoine, Dep of Public Works, Harrisburg, United States,
Rex A. Tolman, Dep of Public Works, Harrisburg, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Waterpower '91: A New View of Hydro Resources


The Harrisburg Hydroelectric Project is a proposed 34.4 MW hydroelectric facility on the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The project will consist of a 16.5 ft high gated spillway dam which will create an impoundment extending approximately eight miles and three miles along the Conodoguinet Creek, a tributary. The 401 Water Quality Certificate application was submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) on March 4, 1987, and denied on March 2, 1988. The Water Quality Certificate was denied on issues that related to wetlands and aquatic habitat, ground water, combined sewer overflows, aquatic resources, upstream and downstream migration of fish, sediment, and failure to demonstrate there will be no water quality impacts. The City of Harrisburg elected to appeal the denial to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board. This paper describes the 401 certification appeal process, the significant issues raised during the proceedings, and the extensive water quality and hydraulic studies conducted as part of the project. During the course of the appeal process, a motion was filed with the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to rule on the issues to be addressed when reviewing an application for a 401 Water Quality Certificate. The Court's resulting ruling limited 401 certifications to only water quality issues. There were innovative water quality studies that have been conducted in conjunction with the project. These included extensive field studies, water quality modeling, analysis, evaluation and mitigative design of Conodoguinet Creek. Water quality modeling included modification of the existing QUAL2EU model to assess both pre- and post-project critical conditions for a 27 mile length of the Creek which included the 3 mile stream reach affected by the proposed impoundment. The paper will conclude with a discussion on the present status of the appeal and the projected outcome.

Subject Headings: Water quality | Hydro power | Project management | Rivers and streams | Aquatic habitats | Mathematical models | Spillways | Water resources | Pennsylvania | United States

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