CSPA and Coalition Seek Cold Water in Middle and South Yuba Rivers

CSPA and fellow members of the Foothills Water Network coalition have called for more summer flow in the South Yuba and Middle Yuba rivers to support cold water fisheries. In Comments and Recommendations for the coordinated relicensing of the Yuba-Bear and Drum-Spaulding hydroelectric projects, the Network proposes measures for real-time water temperature management in the major rivers affected by these two projects. These measures are supported and also proposed by the Department of Fish and Game. At present, they are opposed by Pacific Gas & Electric Company, operator of the Drum-Spaulding  Project.

CSPA and the Network filed comments and recommendations with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on July 31, and at the same time filed motions to intervene in each proceeding. The projects are operated by Nevada Irrigation District (NID) and by PG&E. In addition to generating power, the projects supply water to NID and Placer County Water Agency customers.

The filing also calls for:

  • An adequate minimum flow for Auburn Ravine to support steelhead and salmon, as well as trout.
  • Analysis by FERC of how measures proposed for the new project licenses affect habitat for salmon and steelhead in the South Yuba and Middle Yuba rivers. One of the major goals of CSPA and its coalition partners in the relicensings is to require conditions that will allow the reintroduction of spring-run salmon and steelhead into these rivers. Passage to these rivers is currently blocked by Englebright Dam.
  • Measures to mitigate high flow releases into the Bear River in Bear Valley.
  • Contributions to a Bear River Trail by PG&E and NID.
  • An Ecological Committee that includes NGO’s to oversee implementation of the new project licenses.

The comments support areas of agreement reached by relicensing participants. Areas of agreement include:

  • Measures that require a ramp down of three weeks duration from high spring spill flows to summer baseflows.
  • Measures that shape spills to allow whitewater boating.
  • Streamflows in most of the 40 remaining project stream reaches.

CSPA has played a leading role in these relicensings over the last four years. The licensing proceedings and companion proceedings of the State Water Resources Control Board will likely continue for several more years.

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