The Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project has included environmental and social aspects which have required careful oversight. Though the hydropower plant has resulted in significant economic and quality of life benefits for Liberia’s people, as with any infrastructure project there were potential negative impacts which required mitigation during project implementation.
An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was prepared and finalized for the project in September 2012. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit for the project was received in August 2013. A separate ESIA was prepared for the Mt. Coffee transmission lines, and was accepted by the EPA, with permit received in July 2012. Both ESIAs identified both positive and negative impacts of the project, and suggested appropriate mitigation measures for the negative impacts.
Overall, because the project was a rehabilitation of a previously existing plant, and transmission lines were mostly established in the same right of ways, the negative impacts were found to be few and manageable, and were outweighed by the positive impacts of the project. Negative impacts included interruption of the river continuum, which resumed when the pre-war dam was breached in 1990; a small change in the river discharge downstream of the rehabilitated dam; change in the habitats of river fish and some land flora and fauna in the area of the reservoir; and loss of some post-1990 agricultural land that was planted in the reservoir. Detailed information on impacts is available in the reports here.
To address these impacts and establish guidelines and standards for the safeguards measures to be put in place by LEC and the project contractors during both construction and operation, an Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) was prepared for both the Mt. Coffee plant and the transmission lines. The Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the main project area including the reservoir was finalized in mid-2013; however, new topographical information triggered an update of the RAP in 2014. The RAP Update was disclosed in March 2015 and its implementation launched immediately thereafter. The RAP for the Bushrod to Mt. Coffee transmission line and the RAP for the Paynesville to Mt. Coffee transmission line were finalized and disclosed in 2015 and 2016, respectively. A further Addendum to the RAP for the Emergency Spillway was finalized in mid-2016 and fully implemented by end of 2016. These documents contained recommendations for detailed activities to be carried out as part of the Project’s mitigation measures.