COLUMBIA, S.C. (July 13, 2006) – SCE&G and the City of Columbia, in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; NOAA Fisheries Service; and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, dedicated the Columbia Canal Fish Passage in a ribbon cutting ceremony today at the north end of Riverfront Park in Columbia.
The fish passage is a concrete structure with a series of pools in a staircase pattern. It is designed specifically for American shad, blueback herring, American eel and sturgeon, four migratory fish species, and will provide access to more than 24 miles of their ancestral upstream spawning habitat on the Broad River that has been inaccessible to migratory fish since 1824 – the year the dam for the Columbia Canal was completed. Many other fish species are likely to use the passage, including popular striped bass.
The project has a second, separate downstream passage located at the Columbia Canal Hydroelectric facility at the south end of the canal near the Gervais Street Bridge that allows fish in the canal to safely bypass the turbines. The fish passage here is a set of gates that divert the surface-swimming shad and herring and the bottom-swimming eel and sturgeon to a pipe that safely discharges them into the Broad River.
SCE&G received a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to operate the hydroelectric plant in 2002. As part of that license, SCE&G agreed to construct the fish passage. SCE&G has since transferred ownership of the plant to the City of Columbia.
The construction of the passage has been a true partnership – SCE&G has worked cooperatively with natural resource agencies throughout the relicensing and fish passage construction process to meet a shared conservation goal: to protect and restore diadromous fish populations in the Broad River sub-basin of the Santee River in concert with hydropower generation. The Columbia Canal Fish passage is an important step in a new and growing state, federal and private sector partnership effort for restoring migratory fish for the benefit of future generations of South Carolinians.
According to Governor Mark Sanford, the environmental benefits will be felt state-wide. “Restoring access to this important habitat is the first step in a statewide fisheries plan that could go a long way toward maintaining our state's ecological integrity, a key part of the quality of life we all value as South Carolinians," said Governor Sanford. "I'd give real credit to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, SCE&G, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries Service, the Coastal Conservation League, and American Rivers for their work in facilitating the restoration of South Carolina’s waters. Projects like these help ensure the future health of our environment and strike a good balance between resource stewardship and utility.”
South Carolina Electric & Gas Company is a regulated public utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 613,000 customers in 24 counties in the central, southern and southwestern portions of South Carolina. The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 294,000 customers in 34 counties in the state. Information about SCE&G is available on the company’s web site at www.sceg.com.