New Sappi License 2015

Status Update:

On March 23rd, 2015, the FERC Board rendered its decision. Unfortunately, FERC rejected the recommendation of its staff and granted SD Warren a 40 year license to manage the Eel Weir Dam without safeguards as to summer and fall lake levels. The new license is based on a flow based regime, rather than one that targets specific lake levels. The lake level requirement is now to keep the lake between 262' (roughly, mid winter levels) and 266' (roughly, late spring levels) year round. This means that, theoretically, the lake could be at mid winter levels in July. Further, even if the lake descends to mid winter levels in July, the lake could be further depleted, as minimum flows must be maintained.

However, while the safeguards that Save Our Sebago sought are not in place, this does not mean the lake levels will necessarily be low during the recreational season. In 2015, SD Warren officials suggested that we will not notice any difference from what had been in prior years. In 2016, lake levels were low, exacerbated by drought conditions. In 2017, summer and fall lake levels were generally consistent with the levels in effect under the old plan. While no longer required to maintain the levels under the 1997 compromise, we believe Mill officials have been making a good faith effort to provide adequate recreational season water levels. Save Our Sebago is prepared to continue the fight for adequate lake levels, but we expect such action will not be necessary, at least in the short term

A Little History

The 1997 compromise plan is no longer in place.

The outflow from Sebago Lake through the Eel Weir Dam is a key factor in determining the level of the lake. The dam is licensed to S.D. Warren, which is now a subsidiary of South Africa Pulp and Paper Inc. (SAPPI). The licensing party is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The lake level has been fought over for decades, going back to the nineteenth century. In 1997, a compromise plan was reached over the management of the lake. The plan called for the lake to be managed within targeted bands. The springtime high target was 266.65 feet above mean sea level, then dropped gradually to 265.17 feet on August 1 and continued down to 262 feet on November 1 (except for two years in nine when the low target was 261 feet). The compromise was not perfect from anyone's perspective (which is the essence of compromise). For many of the supporters of Save Our Sebago, the water levels under the 1997 plan are not adequate by the end of summer, and totally inadequate in the fall. Nevertheless, we have generally accepted the compromise and lived with it.

Thank you for your past and present support.