Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act (MWDCA) (Maine)

From Open Energy Information

Last modified on February 12, 2015.

EZFeed Policy

Place Maine

Applies to States or Provinces Maine
Name Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act (MWDCA) (Maine)
Policy Category Other Policy
Policy Type Siting and Permitting
Affected Technologies Hydroelectric, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy
Active Policy Yes
Implementing Sector State/Province

Program Administrator Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Land Use Regulation Commission
Primary Website

Last Review 2014-09-15

Information Source,


The Maine Waterway Development and Conservation Act requires a permit to be obtained prior to starting any hydropower project that may alter water levels or water flow. The Act functions as a comprehensive, one-stop process for hydropower permitting in Maine, and complements federal licensing under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Act is administered by the Department of Environmental Protection in organized municipalities and by the Land Use Regulation Commission in unorganized territories.

Activity requiring a permit includes the construction of a new hydropower project, such as a new water storage dam or a new hydroelectric generating facility of any kind, whether utilizing a dam, a natural water feature, natural current velocities, or tidal action. A permit is also required for the reconstruction or structural alteration of a hydropower project that affects water flows, including the addition or alteration of flashboards or the installation of additional or enlarged turbines. Dredging or filling below the normal high-water line of a water body to facilitate maintenance and repair of an existing and operating hydropower project also requires a permit.

To receive a permit, an applicant must demonstrate the financial and technical capability to complete the project, that adequate provision for public safety has been made, that the project will result in significant economic net benefits (e.g., employment benefits) to the public, that adequate provision has been made for traffic movement out of or into the development area, that the project is consistent with zoning adopted by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, that reasonable provisions have been made to realize the environmental benefits of the project, if any, and to mitigate its adverse environmental impacts, and that the environmental and energy advantages of the project are greater than its direct and cumulative adverse impacts.

The majority of proposed projects reviewed under the Act have lacked substantial adverse environmental impacts and have received permits quickly; the small number of projects requiring a more thorough environmental analysis have been new dams. When reconstruction or structural alteration is considered for an existing dam, the environmental analysis assumes that offset energy sources are oil- and gas-based. For new dam construction, all possible energy sources, including other renewable energy options that can be reasonably implemented, are considered as alternatives.

Authorities (Please contact the if there are any file problems.)

Authority 1: 38 M.R.S.A. 630
Date Effective 1985
Date Enacted 1983