water withdrawals

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Extinction Rebellion activists defend the Connecticut River against Northfield Mountain’s killing

Posted by on 01 Jun 2022 | Tagged as: Connecticut River, Connecticut River ecosystem, Extinction Rebellion, FERC license, FirstLight Power, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, P-2485, water withdrawals

Wednesday, June 1, 2022


Extinction Rebellion above the giant intake tunnel at the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

Northfield MA. At a little after 5:00 a.m. a handful of local Extinction Rebellion activists crawled under the fence past No Trespassing signs at FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station and hung banners reading “No License to Kill,” and “Living Rivers Flow Downstream” above the giant intake tunnel where it sucks huge streams of the Connecticut River backwards and a mile uphill to its 4 billion gallon reservoir.


Activists calling for the shutdown of the FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station stand atop the station’s giant intake tunnel with it’s water source, the Connecticut River, in the background.Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

In a media statement sent to the press Tuesday afternoon the activists listed the demands motivating their trespassing stance.
Their list called for the immediate shutdown of FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station,” the “restoration of the Connecticut River,” and, calling state and federal officials “complicit” in allowing FirstLight’s exploitation of the river, demanding that they “remove themselves from their entanglement with FirstLight.”


Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

Those entering FirstLight’s perimeter were mostly women, though one man was present among them. One of protestors explained through the fence that she felt good about taking action, “It feels like the right thing to do for the river. People are paying for this fossil fueled machine. It’s time public officials were acting on behalf of the people, not the corporations.”


Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

The Extinction Rebellion protestors remained atop FirstLight’s intake tunnel for over 2 hours. Northfield’s intake tunnel, which halts and draws in Connecticut River flow and all manner of aquatic life at 15,000 cubic feet per second, later flushes it back to the riverbed at 20,000 cubic feet per second for hours at a time. Everything suctioned in, dies–including fish eggs, larvae, young-of-the-year, and full size fish. The term scientists use for anything entering Northfield’s sphere of death is “functionally extirpated.”


Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

As 7:00 a.m., approached a patrol car from Northfield Police arrived, and shortly thereafter a FirstLight employee drove in, unlocked the gate and went over to engage the protestors. Further discussions continued and ultimately the handful of activists exited the premises through the gate opened by the FirstLight employee, chanting “Water is life!”, “Shut it down!”, and vowing “We will be back.”


Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

STILL ENOUGH WATER IN THE DEERFIELD RIVER FOR FISH?

Posted by on 16 Aug 2019 | Tagged as: American shad, bass, Connecticut River, Deerfield MA, Deerfield River, Deerfield River watershed, ecosystem, fish kill, migratory fish, monitoring, Pocumtuck, sea lamprey, shortnose sturgeon, Stillwater, trout, water withdrawals

Still enough water for fish in the Deerfield River?

Text and photos Copyright © 2019 by Karl Meyer. All rights reserved.

(Click 3 X to enlarge)

Rivers are the central arteries of ecosystems. When a river is damaged or broken—anywhere from its headwaters to its mouth, that system withers; its aquatic life falters.

Just above the mouth of the Deerfield River are the few miles of a reach known as by many as Stillwater. It’s the home of trout, bass and other resident species, as well as hosting several migratory species during and spring, summer and early fall. The weeks from late spring through summer are critical for fragile young-of-the-year fish in these reaches. They are the progeny that will carry-on and replace future generations of aquatic life.

For hundreds of years the fertile lands on both sides the Deerfield River south of Deerfield Academy have been cultivated for life-giving crops—corn, squash, onions, etc. Like the fish that historically fed generation upon generation of Deerfield denizens going back to the first planters, the Pocumtuck, these fields produced life-giving crops. They were crops that grew well in the moist, fertile soils of southern New England–in harmony with this climate’s ample supply of annual rainfall.

But the Deerfield crop profile has changed drastically along those last miles of the river. Though corn is still significant, and big fields of pesticide-ready potato plants are still planted today, there are now hundreds of acres devoted to throw-away, one-time use annual flower cultivation—as well as roll-away turf farms that cart away that local “crop” to unknown developers and developments. These new plantations of intensively water-hungry crops have started dominating the bottomland meadows here over the last 15 years. Today, an energy intensive marijuana growing facility will soon locate in the meadows, also looking for a constant water supply.

What these new boutique crops have in common, besides depending on migrant workers to manage them under the intense summer sun, is massive irrigation. Miles of over-, under- and above-ground piping now dominates the landscape—pumper trucks and self-propelling sprinklers sucking up arcs of water from the lower Deerfield River like it was California’s Central Valley. This is occurring near its intersection with the Green River, and just two miles from the Deerfield’s confluence from the Connecticut–the outlet back to the sea for all migratory fish.

This suctioning is happening in the heat of the summer months, when eggs and young of fish are developing in those shallow, low-flow Stillwater reaches. How much water is being taken from the river at these critical times? How many fish are being inhaled? How do these withdrawals affect the river’s temperature at a time when fragile young need to feed? Rivers and their aquatic life belong to everyone.

Is anyone monitoring this ever-increasing siphoning of flow from the Deerfield River?

All photos Copyright © 2019 by Karl Meyer. All rights reserved.
(Click 3 X on any of the photos below for a broader view.)