On April 29, 2004 PG&E, on behalf of the 2105 Licensing Group, filed with the FERC the April 22, 2004 Settlement Agreement and a transmittal letter for Project 2105.  This marks a significant milepost in the Project 2105 licensing process.  While not all issues are resolved and not all participants signed the agreement, the 2105 Committee believes that the Settlement Agreement achieves many of the 2105 Committee’s ultimate goals for Lake Almanor and the Feather River downstream of the lake.


The agreement addresses Project 2105 reservoir lake levels, stream flows below project dams, water quality monitoring, wildlife habitat enhancement, and recreation enhancements.  The issue of shoreline erosion at Lake Almanor is not addressed1 in the Settlement Agreement and remains an unresolved issue.  Boating and swimming safety on Lake Almanor is addressed in a separate agreement.

 

It is assumed that the principles agreed to by the Parties in the Settlement Agreement will ultimately be incorporated into PG&E's new FERC license for Project 2105.

Lake Levels

Under the agreement, PG&E will be required to operate Lake Almanor to specified lake levels during the summer months.  The agreed to minimum lake levels represent a compromise reached by the Parties and strike a balance between lake levels and required releases below Canyon Dam.  PG&E's technical studies indicate that the lake levels will, on average, be no less than what has occurred over the past 20 years.


In Normal and Wet years, the lake will be no less than elevation 4485 feet between June 1 and August 31.  During Dry years, the lake will be no less than 4483 feet on May 31 and no less than 4480 feet between June 1 and August 31.  In Critically Dry years, the lake will be no less than 4482 feet on May 31 and no less than 4480 feet between June 1 and August 31.  The type of water year 2(e.g. Dry or Normal) depends on the predicted seasonal inflow into Lake Oroville and is defined as the Water Year Type.


The minimum lake level may be temporarily reduced in the event of 1) an Emergency, 2) Multiple Dry Years or 3) a Temporary Modification if, for example, substantial maintenance or repair work is need on Project facilities.


The maximum lake level will continue to be 4494 feet.  PG&E will continue to meet between March 15 and May 15 annually with a committee appointed by the Plumas County Board of Supervisors.

Stream Flows

Fish Flows


Fish flows in the Seneca Reach and Belden Reach will be significantly increased under the Settlement Agreement.  PG&E currently releases 35 cubic feet/second (cfs3) year around into the Seneca Reach and, for the Belden Reach, PG&E releases 140 cfs from the last Saturday in April to Labor Day and 60 cfs for the rest of the year.  Under the agreement, the Seneca Reach fish flow will be increased to between 60 cfs and 150 cfs depending on month and Water Year Type.   The average annual volume of fish flow released from Lake Almanor into the Seneca Reach will change from 25,339 acre-feet to 64,431 acre-feet, an increase of 39,092 acre-feet


Fish flow in the Belden Reach will be increased to between 75 cfs and 235 cfs depending on the month and Water Year Type.  No current fish flows below Butt Valley Dam are required and none are required under the agreement, however, PG&E will be prohibited in reducing any leakage or other flows now occurring below the dam.

 

Pulse Flows:

In January, February, and March of Wet or Normal years, PG&E will be required to release pulse flows in both the Seneca and Belden Reaches for the purpose of improving and preserving the aquatic conditions in each reach.  The pulse flow releases will result in river flows of about 1200 cfs for a period of 12 hours and will be ramped in accordance with the Settlement Agreement

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Recreation Flows:


Within 6 months of issuance of the new Project 2105 FERC license, PG&E will establish a "Recreation River Flow Technical Review Group4" (TRG) for the purpose of evaluating whether or not recreation river flows will be established in the Belden Reach.  If the TRG determines that the recreation test flows should be conducted, and if the test flows are ultimately successful, then PG&E will be required to release 650 cfs or 750 cfs (depending on Water Year Type) during the day on one or more weekend days during July, August, September, and October.


The number of release days each year may be adjusted up or down depending on how many boaters take advantage of the recreation flow releases in the prior year.  PG&E may postpone recreation flow releases in the event of an Emergency.

Water Quality Monitoring

PG&E will be required to conduct ongoing water quality monitoring of project waters to ensure that water quality standards are met and to identify any trends in water quality conditions that may occur over time that may require remediation.  The list of constituents to be monitored includes metals, minerals, nutrients, and bacteria.  Within three months of issuance of the new Project 2105 FERC license PG&E must develop plans to study and monitor:

 

PG&E must prepare an annual water quality report and must consult with the State Water Regional Control Board, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and other Water Quality Parties to analyze the annual water quality data.  The annual report will be reviewed and discussed in a discussion group  consisting of PG&E, aquatic resources management agencies and Water Quality Parties between April 15 and April 28 each year.

Wildlife Habitat Enhancement

Within 12 months of issuance of the new Project 2105 FERC license PG&E will prepare a Wildlife Habitat Enhancement Plan in consultation with the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, State Water Resources Control Board, and Plumas County.


The Plan will be designed to protect a variety of sensitive biological resources primarily through fencing and vehicle exclusion measures.  PG&E's initial investment will be limited to $20,000 (in 2005 dollars) and an ongoing annual maintenance cost of $5,000 (2004 dollars).

Recreation Enhancements

Within one year of issuance of the new Project 2105 FERC license PG&E must make final the Draft UNFFR Recreation Resource Management Plan ("RRMP") that was filed as part of PG&E's Project 2105 FERC filing.  The RRMP describes the development of recreation facilities at both Lake Almanor and Butt Valley reservoir that will be constructed over the next 13 years.


The recreation facilities include new and refurbished camp sites, picnic areas, beaches, and a boat launch.  Camp sites will serve a variety of uses including conventional campsites, RVs and group camping.  Camping facilities will be constructed or refurbished to current standards including the Americans with Disability Accessibility Guidelines.


The PSEA Swim Beach at Pratville will be improved and named the "Marvin Alexander Beach" after Marvin Alexander, an original founder of the Lake Level Committee, longtime summer resident of Lake Almanor and a Project 2105 Committee member.


PG&E and the Forest Service ("FS") will share the costs on a 40/60 basis for improvements to FS-owned facilities at the Almanor Family Campground, Almanor Group Campground, Almanor Amphitheater, Almanor Picnic Area, and Almanor Beach.  The improvements at these facilities will occur over an expected 13 year period and will cost PG&E $5 million (in 2004 dollars).


PG&E will contribute matching funds up to a maximum of $300,000 to Plumas County for construction of a non-motorized recreation trail across lands owned by PG&E on the south side of Lake Almanor as a continuation of the Lake Almanor Regional Trail to the East Shore Campground.  The county will repair and maintain the trail including any repairs for damages that may be caused by PG&E raising and lowering the water in Lake Almanor.


Notes

1.  PG&E claims that it has the right to erode properties that are subject to the Clifford Deed which are generally located on the Lake Almanor peninsula.  For other properties that are subject to the Red River Deed or other agreements, PG&E argues that they are adequately maintaining the shoreline.  Plumas County does not agree and PG&E and the County were unable to agree on a shoreline erosion provision in the Settlement Agreement.  Plumas County intends to petition FERC to require PG&E to adequately maintain all shoreline properties from erosion.

2.  The Water Year Type is determined on or about the 10th of each month from January through May of each year.  The May Water Year Type is used to establish the Water Year Type for the remaining months of the year.

3.  One cfs over a 24 hour period equals approximately 1.98 acre feet

4.  The TRG will be comprised of the Forest Service, California Department of Fish and Game, California State Water Resources Control Board, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Plumas County, and other Parties.  The TRG meeting will be open to the public.