In a hundred-plus page filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on August 25, 2017, CSPA and other members of Foothills Water Network coalition filed recommendations for improving flow and habitat conditions in the lower Yuba River. The filing responds to the “Notice of Ready for Environmental Analysis,” a major milestone in the relicensing of the Yuba River Development Project, owned and operated by Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA). The proceeding has been underway for six years.
The filing describes how CSPA developed a flow proposal for the lower Yuba River based on a requirement to release a percent of unimpaired flow during the months of February through June. This approach was consistent with the State Water Board’s 2010 Delta Flow Criteria Report. The filing describes CSPA’s use of the water balance model developed by YCWA to develop this proposal for improving flows while balancing water supply needs and reservoir storage. In a separate filing on August 25, staff from the State Water Board recommends that FERC analyze the proposal CSPA developed on behalf of the Network.
Ultimately, the filing by CSPA and the Network supports a similar but differently organized flow regime proposed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Modeling shows that the CDFW/USFWS proposal would release virtually the same percent of unimpaired flow as the CSPA/Network proposal would be able to release, given the limitations of YCWA’ infrastructure to release water.
The Network’s filing also features extensive analysis and rationale for proposed improvements to the physical habitat in and along the lower Yuba River. These measures are designed to work in concert with proposed flow measures to improve rearing habitat for juvenile salmon.
The comment letter discusses a dozen-odd additional issues and also describes multiple areas in which the Network and resource agencies reached agreement with YCWA.