Today, the Washington Department of Ecology issued a Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification for the proposed Goldendale Energy Storage Project.
The project, developed by Free Flow Power Project 101, LLC, would be a pumped water storage system along the Columbia River in Klickitat County.
Ecology issued the certification with conditions so the proposed project’s construction and operation would meet state water quality requirements. Conditions include following specific best practices, requirements for getting future Ecology permits, and monitoring and notification requirements.
The water quality certification is just one of many approvals needed before the project can be built. Other government agencies still need to issue additional authorizations. Two of those agencies are the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which are reviewing a hydropower license and permit to fill federally regulated waters, respectively. Under the U.S. Clean Water Act, the federal agencies require a water quality certification from Ecology before issuing their decisions.
In December 2022, Ecology released its environmental review of the proposed project. The document analyzes impacts to the environment, including water quality, and to Tribal and cultural resources. Under federal regulations, Ecology could only consider water quality issues as it determined whether to issue the water quality certification. Future Ecology permits and other agencies’ approvals may consider all the impacts identified in the environmental review.
FERC is conducting a separate federal environmental review of the project, which is required to issue any federal permit or license. It released the draft document on April 6 and is accepting public comments on the draft through June 6.
Ecology is required to ensure that state waters are protected for public health and public enjoyment, in addition to protecting water usage and keeping wildlife habitat free from pollution. The certification decision can be appealed within 30 days of being issued.
Learn more about the project on Ecology’s Goldendale Energy Storage Project webpage.