CSPA, as part of the Foothills Water Network coalition, filed comments on February 9 on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the relicensing of the Yuba-Bear and Drum-Spaulding hydroelectric projects, located in Placer and Nevada counties. CSPA first engaged in 2008 in the process required by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and has been a leader in both written filings and meetings since then.
The comments largely address the major issues that relicensing did not resolve. These include protection of salmon and steelhead in Auburn Ravine and the protection of cold water habitat for fish in the Middle Yuba River. The comments also argue that FERC should require support for a trail system along the Bear River, and not restrict its vision of recreation to reservoirs and campgrounds.
In addition, the comments discuss procedural decisions associated with PG&E’s decision to split off the uneconomic part of its Drum-Spaulding Project into a separate project, in order to facilitate selling the new project in the future. The new “Lower Drum Project” is a money loser as far as generating power goes, but is essential for delivering water to the greater Auburn area. Despite creating what is essentially a new stand-alone water supply project, FERC continues to accept PG&E’s self-serving argument that the project operator shouldn’t have to mitigate for most project effects on fish in Auburn Ravine, on the grounds that the end use of the water used to generate power is irrigation.