401 Water Quality Certificate


Alcoa-Yadkin has filed an appeal of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ decision to deny its application for a 401 water quality certificate for the Yadkin Project. The company must receive a water quality certificate from the state as part of the FERC relicensing process.


The appeal, being heard by the Office of Administrative Hearings, claims that DENR acted unlawfully when it denied the 401 water quality certificate. The denial was not based on concerns about water quality, but allegations regarding Alcoa-Yadkin’s ownership of the riverbed.


As part of its 401 application, Alcoa-Yadkin has committed to invest approximately $80 million once it receives a new license to continue improving water quality in the Yadkin River. The investments include technology to further improve dissolved oxygen levels, a key measure of water quality, in the water below the dams.
Alcoa regularly monitors dissolved oxygen levels. Recent data shows that water quality at the Yadkin Project has improved dramatically since the company invested more than $5 million in turbine upgrades and other enhancements at the Narrows Dam to increase the amount of oxygen in the water.


Dissolved Oxygen Levels Improve As Water Flows Through the Yadkin Project


Due to upstream conditions, water enters the Yadkin Project at High Rock Lake with low concentrations of dissolved oxygen. After traveling 38 miles down the Yadkin River and passing through four dams operated by APGI, the water quality improves significantly before it is discharged at the Falls Dam.


Read the 2012 Dissolved Oxygen Report


“There should be no doubt that we will meet the state’s water quality standards. The technology we have implemented has been effective and gives us full confidence that our technology will continue to improve dissolved oxygen conditions at the Yadkin Project.”


— Kevin Anton, Alcoa’s Chief Sustainability Officer