Study Plan

Susitna-Watana Hydro is in the early phase of a long and complex federal licensing process under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A major component of this phase involves the planning, review, approval and implementation of a Study Plan that addresses a number of areas related to the project.

The Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) filed a Proposed Study Plan (PSP) with FERC in July 2012 that included 58 studies covering nearly 186,000 acres surrounding the project site. A number of Technical Workgroup Meetings were conducted with a variety of stakeholders to provide an open forum for stakeholders to contribute to the study planning process. These meetings and other input received from a variety of interested parties provided valuable information that was used to formulate a Revised Study Plan (RSP) submitted to FERC in December 2012. FERC will review the Revised Study Plan and render a decision by Spring 2013. AEA hopes to begin conducting these studies beginning in 2013.

The Study Plan includes the following areas of study. Each study provides a link to the Proposed Study Plan document filed with FERC (“PSP”) to the Revised Study Plan that was filed with FERC (“RSP”).


Geology & Soils

Study area will define the geologic, geotechnical, seismic and foundation conditions at the sites of Project works.
  • Geology & Soils Characterization Study (PSP) | (RSP)

Water Resources

Studies are underway to characterize and evaluate any potential effects to the water quality of the Susitna River.
  • Baseline Water Quality Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Water Quality Modeling Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Mercury Assessment and Potential for Bioaccumulation Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Geomorphology Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Fluvial Geomorphology Modeling below Watana Dam Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Groundwater-related Aquatic Habitat Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Ice Processes in the Susitna River Dam Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Glacial and Runoff Changes Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)

Instream Flow Studies: Fish Aquatics & Riparian

A major area of research are hydrology characteristics and its relations with fish and aquatic biota and their habitats.
  • Fish and Aquatics Instream Flow Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Riperian Instream Flow Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)

Fish & Aquatic Resources

Dozens of studies are underway to better understand the Susitna River fish populations.
  • Fish Distribution and Abundance in the Upper Susitna (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Fish Distribution and Abundance in the Middle and Lower Susitna River (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Salmon Escapement Study (PSP) | (RSP)
  • River Productivity Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Characterization of Aquatic Habitats in the Susitna River with Potential to be Affected by the Susitna-Watana Project (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • The Future Watana Reservoir Fish Community and Risk of Entrainment Study (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Fish Passage at Watana Dam (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Fish Passage Barriers in the Middle and Upper Susitna River and Susitna Tributaries (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Aquatic Resources Study within the Access Alignment, Transmission Alignment, and Construction Area (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Genetic Baseline Study for Selected Fish Species (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Analysis of Fish Harvest in and Downstream of the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project Area (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Eulachon Distribution and Abundance in the Susitna River (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)

Wildlife Resources

Distribution, movements, population size, productivity, and habitat of wildlife in the Susitna River and surrounding area are the subject of numerous studies.
  • Study of Distribution, Abundance, Productivity & Survival of Moose (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Distribution, Abundance, Movements, and Productivity of Caribou (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Use of Dall’s Sheep (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Use by Large Carnivores (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Distribution and Abundance of Wolverines (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Terrestrial Furbearer Abundance and Habitat Use (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Aquatic Furbearer Abundance and Habitat Use (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Species Composition and Habitat Use of Small Mammals (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Distribution and Habitat Use of Little Brown Bat (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Survey Study of Eagles and Other Raptors (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Waterbird Migration, Breeding and Habitat Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Breeding Survey Study of Landbirds and Shorebirds (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Population Ecology of Willow Ptarmigan in Game Management Unity 13, Southcentral Alaska (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Study of Distribution and Habitat Use of Wood Frogs (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Evaluation of Wildlife Habitat Use Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Wildlife Harvest Analysis Study (PSP) | (RSP)

Botanical Resources

AEA is collecting necessary baseline data to evaluate the potential impacts to vegetation, wildlife habitat, wetland and vascular-plant resources in the Project area.

Recreation & Aesthetic Resources

Several studies are underway to document baseline conditions and help assess potential impacts on recreation and aesthetic resources from construction and operation of the proposed Susitna-Watana Project.
  • Recreation Resources Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Aesthetics Resources Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Recreation Boating/River Access Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)

Cultural & Paleontological Resources

Studies will identify appropriate protection, mitigation and enhancement measures of cultural resources.
  • Cultural Resources Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Paleontological Resources Study (PSP) | (RSP)

Subsistence Resources

Subsistence studies will document traditional and contemporary subsistence harvest and use and to collect baseline data to facilitate the assessment of potential impacts.
  • Subsistence Baseline Documentation Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)

Socioeconomic and Transportation Resource

One study area will address evaluation of regional economic effects as well as effects on social conditions and public goods and services.
  • Regional Economic Evaluation Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Social Conditions and Public Goods and Services Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Transportation Resources Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Health Impact Assessment Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)
  • Air Quality Study (PSP) | (D-RSP) | (RSP)

Project Safety

Studies will assess the stability of Project facilities during flood loading conditions and to estimate earthquake ground motion parameters.
  • Probable Maximum Flood Study (PSP) | (RSP)
  • Site Specific Seismic Hazard Study (PSP) | (RSP)