River-administering agencies must evaluate proposed water resources projects under the appropriate standard of Section 7. The evaluative standard for projects located within a wild and scenic river corridor, Section 5(a) study area, or qualifying Section 2(a)(ii) application area is whether the project would have a “direct and adverse effect.” The evaluative standard for projects located downstream, upstream, or on a tributary to a wild and scenic river corridor or Section 5(a) study area is whether the project would “invade the area or unreasonably diminish” for designated wild and scenic rivers, and “invade the area or diminish” for Section 5(a) study rivers. The result of that evaluation is provided to the federal proponent or federal agency providing assistance. A Section 7 determination is typically conducted parallel to another federal agency’s permitting or environmental analysis process; it is not conducted as an independent National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.
Review of hydroelectric and federally water resources projects under Section 7 of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act is complex. Please refer to Wild & Scenic Rivers Act: Section 7 (2004), a technical report of the Interagency Wild and Scenic Rivers Coordinating Council for a detailed discussion.