RUMFORD — City officials recently watched as experienced whitewater kayakers tackle a rocky section of the Androscoggin River — a rare sight.
“What you witnessed was the on-water portion of a whitewater boat study being conducted as part of the Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project relicensing,” David Heidrich, stakeholder relations manager at Northeast Brookfield Renewable US, said in a statement .
Rumford Falls Hydro, a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable, owns and operates the Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project, which is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Fire Chief Chris Reed said Brookfield released water at two different levels for the study last week, at 800 cubic feet per second and 1,500 cubic feet per second.
Participants included whitewater kayakers with a wealth of experience rafting natural Class III to Class V whitewater elements. One traveled from Montreal.
Heidrich said the study is part of a larger study plan submitted by Rumford Falls Hydro and approved by the FERC.
“Thursday’s event was brought to a successful conclusion thanks to the collaboration of community and public safety officials with the City of Rumford, various community stakeholders and the study volunteers,” he said.
The license for the Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project was issued on October 18, 1994 and expires on September 30, 2024. Rumford Falls Hydro will apply for a new license no later than September 30, Heidrich said.
As part of this relicensing project, it is conducting resource studies to allow FERC to complete its environmental assessment document and develop a new operating license. The purpose of the survey is to collect information about participation in outdoor recreational activities at or near the Rumford Falls Hydroelectric Project.
Heidrich said the results of the study, along with other relicensing studies, will be included in upcoming reports and will be made available for review and comment as part of the relicensing process.