Grand River Dam Authority’s Watershed Conservation Easement Program Wins 2022 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Award

Grand River Dam Authority’s Watershed Conservation Easement Program Wins 2022 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Award

Employing a Novel Approach to Improve Long-term Water Quality of Grand Lake

Sacramento, CA (October 19, 2022) – The National Hydropower Association (NHA) today announced Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) received the 2022 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW) Award in the category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement.

The category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement recognizes hydropower projects that provide enhanced recreational opportunities for the general public, offer measurable benefits that mitigate, conserve, preserve, or enhance the natural resources, or conserve historical aspects of hydropower facilities and their integration with the surrounding community.

Reservoirs across the world are experiencing harmful algal blooms at a higher frequency due to eutrophication and increased temperatures from climate change. Seeing that harmful algal blooms were occurring more frequently on Grand Lake, GRDA, in cooperation with local state agencies, decided to take a more pro-active approach by implementing a water quality modeling project to identify nutrient sources and subsequent loading inputs from the lake’s major tributaries and to understand how those nutrients influenced lake algal biomass.

GRDA developed its watershed management support system tool to identify and implement conservation easements that have proven to be the most cost-effective best management practices for improving water quality across multiple metrics, including nutrient mitigation, increased dissolved oxygen, fecal bacteria reduction, sedimentation reduction, etc.

To date, GRDA has enrolled 471 acres within the watershed into long-term, 30-year conservation easements. GRDA continues to enroll new easements and measure the environmental outcomes of these easements to help curtail the frequent formation of harmful algal blooms in Grand Lake.

“NHA is thrilled to acknowledge GRDA’s impressive work with the OSAW Award in the category of Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement,” said LeRoy Coleman, Director of Communications, NHA. “GRDA’s commitment to improving water quality is commendable and shows that GRDA is an outstanding steward of their watershed and the environment.”

“GRDA was created as a conservation and reclamation district for the water of the Grand River, and in recent years we have brought a new focus to conservation and restoration by focusing on innovative watershed approaches supported by private landowners and producers. With these public/private partnerships, we expect to impose long-term improvements in lake water quality,” said Dr. Townsend, Ph.D. Vice President for the GRDA. “Our cooperative efforts and support from local producers are setting the foundation for continued success, and we believe these practices will positively impact water quality for future generations.”

About the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Awards

In 1994, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) created the Hydro Achievement Awards to recognize organizations and projects committed to excellence in the development and operation of hydropower. In 1999, NHA added the Outstanding Stewardship of America’s Rivers (OSAR) Report to profile the best examples of hydropower’s ability to generate clean, renewable, reliable and affordable electricity while protecting the riverine ecosystem. Beginning in 2007, these two recognition programs were merged to more effectively provide recognition to deserving organizations and to reflect the changing nature of the hydropower industry, particularly the fact that hydropower can be used in various waterways. The new award program is called the Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters (OSAW).