State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)
Draft Environmental Impact Report
Folks it has been 12 years since PG&E started their re-licensing process for the Upper North Fork Feather River Hydroelectric Project, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project # 2105.
This re-licensing requires a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). We have been waiting NINE long years for the SWRCB to release their Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). The report was finally released 26 Nov 14, it examines two alternatives for cooling water to a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius at the Rock Creek/Cresta reaches of the Feather River (about 40 miles below Lake Almanor). Both alternatives call for a variety of actions to take cold water from Lake Almanor; both include installation of thermal curtains in Almanor and Butt Lake.
While staff recommendations do not call for immediate installation of the curtains; they instead recommend a form of adaptive management using increased cold water releases from Canyon Dam outlet between June and September each year. SWRCB staff also recommends the Water Board reserve the option to install thermal curtains in the future should the adaptive management practices not prove effective in reducing downstream temperatures. We have always taken the position that removal of cold water from Lake Almanor will have many and lasting negative impacts.
The goal of reducing downstream water temperatures was developed as part of a negotiated settlement reached in 2001 during the re-licensing of Rock Creek/Cresta License # 1962. It required that “reasonable” attempts would be made to meet the proposed water temperature (max 20 degrees Celsius) in the Feather River.
A number of excellent resources are available if you wish to learn more about the thermal curtains, cold water issues and the Project 2105 process through the years. An excellent website, maintained by Bob Lambert, is www.project2105.org. Another website, maintained by Wendi Durkin of Save Lake Almanor, is www.savelakealmanor.org. I urge you to visit these websites; they contain tremendous historical data and documentation and they will be updated as new information becomes available. Of course, I will be posting information on my website (www.almanorpost.com) as well. For reference: Issues_Project 2105.
Our local population has changed dramatically over the years since the start of this re-licensing process. Many are not familiar with the potential impacts of removal of our limited cold water pool, the thermal curtain, etc. We only have until 26 March 15 to submit comments on the DEIR – Now is the time to get educated and take action!
Tampering with very sensitive ecological systems, given the uproar over climate change and the panic precipitated by drought, does not make sense!
TIME LINE FOR 2105 Re-licensing
2002 – PG&E files application for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license
2004 – PG&E old license expires – now operating under year to year extensions
2004 – Settlement Agreement reached, signed by stakeholders, not signed by SWRCB
2005 – FERC completes NEPA evaluation – recommends re-licensing
2005 – SWRCB begins EIR scoping
2006 – SWRCB scoping report issued
2006 – 2007 – SWRCB completes special studies reports
2007 – SWRCB releases EIR Level 1 & 2 reports with potential alternatives
2009 – SWRCB releases EIR Level 3 report narrowing proposed alternatives
Nov 2014 – SWRCB releases Draft Environmental Impact Report with recommended actions
Nov 26, 2014 – Comment period begins will all comments due 26 Mar 15