January 31, 2011. CSPA and a five other conservation and fishing groups have commented on the Initial Study Report in the relicensing of the Merced River Project, and submitted seven requests for new studies.
In 2009 and 2010, Merced Irrigation District, the operator of New Exchequer and McSwain dams on the Merced River, used process arguments to shut out study of Merced River salmon and steelhead from the relicensing. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted the argument that fish downstream of Merced ID’s agricultural diversion aren’t directly affected by the District’s hydroelectric operations, so no study was warranted.
The January 31 comments by CSPA and allies attacks this deception, and proposes seven appropriate studies.
Three state and federal fisheries agencies commented and filed in support of the same studies. And in a related but separate action, the State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to Merced Irrigation District ordering studies over the next two years. The State Board needs data to evaluate a water quality certification that is required to relicense the hydroelectric project.