© 2024 Maine Public
1450 Lisbon St.
Lewiston, ME 04240

Maine Public Membership Department
63 Texas Ave.
Bangor, ME 04401

Portland Office
323 Marginal Way
Portland, ME 04101

Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Scroll down to see all available streams.

Court backs state in denial of Union River dams certificate

A view of the Union River and its confluence with Branch Lake Stream on April 17, 2019.
Courtesy of Downeast Salmon Federation
A view of the Union River and its confluence with Branch Lake Stream on April 17, 2019.

The relicensing for two Union River dams is delayed once again, after a superior court justice backed the Board of Environmental Protection's decision to not issue a water quality certificate.

The two dams, owned by a subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable, are covered by one federal license, which expired in 2018. The dams need the water quality certificate as part of the relicensing program.

The company had challenged the board's assertion that the waters around the dams are Class B waters, which require higher water quality standards.

But Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy sided with the board.

Dwayne Shaw is the executive director at Downeast Salmon Federation.

"This is excellent news, and it reinforces what both the DEP and BEP and many of the people within the public have said for quite some time, that the water quality has degraded as a result of the dams," Shaw said.

He says the dams are over 100 years old, and Brookfield should be required to modernize them in the relicensing process.

"These licenses can be 40-year durations, so it's very important that we get it right this time," Shaw said.

Brookfield did not respond to a request for comment. The company can appeal the decision again, or work to meet the new water quality standards.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.