Two conservation groups raised concerns over the safety of Atlantic salmon at a dam in Waterville. Credit: Courtesy of Jonathan Carr / Atlantic Salmon Federation via Maine Public

Two conservation groups working to protect endangered Atlantic salmon on the Kennebec River raised concerns that fish were left stranded at the Lockwood Dam in Waterville last week.

Trout Unlimited and the Atlantic Salmon Federation claimed that routine operations by Brookfield Renewable Partners trapped and injured several of the Atlantic salmon able to migrate through the watershed. John Burrows of the Atlantic Salmon Federation said the number may be small, but it is still significant.

“We may be talking a quarter to a third of the run that’s injured or stranded or will not survive. So when you’re talking about numbers that are that critically low, every single fish matters,” Burrows said.

The strandings occurred when Brookfield installed flashboards on the dam, as it does every year. The action cuts off water flow to the dam’s channel, stranding salmon and other fish which then have to be rescued by the Maine Department of Marine Resources and other volunteers.

Burrows said Brookfield does not have the legal authority to harm, injure or kill Atlantic salmon in any of its four dams on the Kennebec, which is why his group plans to file a suit for violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Brookfield Renewable spokesperson Miranda Kessel said the company is disappointed with the recent claims made by the groups in their “continual pursuit of dam removal within the lower Kennebec communities.”

Kessel said repairs undertaken on June 15 included a 2-foot drawdown of the impoundment that started at 9 a.m. and concluded by the afternoon. She said the improvements are expected to improve water flow for the movement of fish in the river, and the plan was developed in consultation with resource agencies who were onsite to conduct stranding surveys during the drawdown.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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