Promoters of Progress, Public and Private

By Kris Polly

For our cover story, we have the honor of interviewing Representative Annie Kuster of New Hampshire. Representative Kuster was the cosponsor in the House of Representatives of the Twenty-First Century Dams Act, which would invest over $25 billion in dam upgrades, dam safety measures, and hydropower tax credits. The bill has bipartisan backing and is supported by both hydropower industry groups and environmental groups. 

We also feature a fascinating interview with consultant John France, who is leading the independent forensic investigation into the 2019 failure of Sanford and Edenville Dams in central Michigan. The independent forensic team has released an interim report that identifies static liquefaction as a major factor in the breach of Edenville Dam—an unexpected finding with significant repercussions for the dam industry. 

We speak with Janel Ulrich of Washington State’s Chelan Public Utility District about the process of relicensing its Rock Island Hydroelectric Project, including how it brings stakeholders together to find creative solutions for ensuring safety, protecting wildlife, and providing recreational opportunities. 

Canyon Hydro is a Bellingham, Washington–based manufacturer of custom hydro turbines, including micro hydro installations that can aid rural, off-grid communities or power remote buildings. Brett Bauer, Canyon’s vice president of engineering, tells us more. 

We also interview Kurt Garvey, the senior account manager of specialty markets for the Oiles America Corporation, about the company’s self-lubricating wear components, which are currently used at more than 2,000 hydroelectric installations around the world. 

Finally, we speak with Marc Nering, a British Columbia– based hydropower consultant and manager who designed and built a power-generating waterwheel in his spare time. Mr. Nering explains the design and construction of the waterwheel and discusses its potential for use in remote and off-grid locations. 

All these professionals are supporting the future of the hydropower industry, whether by advocating for legislation that would support dams across the nation, deepening our knowledge of dams and their potential failure modes, doing long-term planning for existing structures, providing top-of-the-line equipment, or creating new and innovative devices. 

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at