Project 2105 License Group (2105LG) Meeting Summary
April 27, 2005
Call to order: Patti Kroen, Facilitator at 10:00 a.m.
Attendees: See Attachment 1 for list of attendees that signed in. The attendees introduced themselves and approved the meeting agenda with the inclusion of a discussion regarding collaborative decision-making. The Facilitator distributed copies of the March 28, 2005 meeting summary as drafted with revisions suggested by NOAA included as redline/strikeout. The 2105LG reviewed the revisions and approved the summary with the revisions. Bob Baiocchi noted the absence of representatives from the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Contractors at the 2105LG meetings. Mr. Baiocchi also requested that PG&E provide accommodations for him consistent with ADA accessibility laws to assist him in attending these meetings. Tom Jereb and Mr. Baiocchi will discuss the matter further off-line.
Report from the Alternatives Development Sub-Group
Sub-Group Task Review
The 2105LG reviewed the sub-group task: describe alternatives to the Prattville Curtain alternative that may reduce water temperatures in the downstream reaches of the North Fork Feather River for evaluation in the CEQA process. The 2105LG discussed their understanding that the Prattville Curtain will be evaluated to some level of detail in the CEQA document and reiterated their lack of support for this option. They agreed to continue discussion of this topic during the collaborative decision-making process agenda item (see discussion below).
Alternatives as Bookends for CEQA Analysis
The sub-group discussions included several dozen possible mechanisms to reduce water temperatures and resulted in three additional alternatives that represent ‘bookends’ for the CEQA analysis to determine what measures if any, are feasible and are expected to provide benefits to water temperatures and aquatic conditions in the project area and downstream. The sub-group did not recommend any one measure as the preferred alternative and none of the alternatives have the full support of the sub-group. The alternatives identified are: Alternative A, Prattville Curtain; Alternative B, Swapping Powerhouse Flows; Alternative C, Mechanical Options; and Alternative D, Upstream Restoration. Further details on Alternatives B through D were provided later in the meeting (see discussions below).
CEQA Process Update
The 2105LG discussed how the water temperature issue, which was left as unresolved for the April 2004 Settlement Agreement, would be evaluated during the CEQA process. The CEQA process is required for PG&E to obtain a 401 water quality certificate from the SWRCB. PG&E informed the group that the contract is with the consultant and should be completed soon. The 2105LG discussed the delays in initiating the CEQA process and possible schedules. The consultant and SWRCB have not met to establish a schedule but the SWRCB desires a timely process that fully evaluates alternatives and includes data necessary to evaluate new ideas and options.
The 2105LG discussed the contents of a typical CEQA document and were reminded that the scope of the analysis is broader than just water temperatures. More information on CEQA, including guidelines can be accessed at ceres.ca.gov. The SWRCB and PGE were reminded of the importance to schedule the scoping meeting in Chester during June, July, or August, in order to help ensure maximum participation by the Lake Almanor Basin community.
Alternative B – Swapping Powerhouse Flows
PG&E described Alternative B as a re-operation option that uses the swapping of flows between Prattville and Canyon Dam to increase flows in the Seneca Reach and decrease temperatures at Belden Dam. During development of this alternative, the sub-group considered modeled exceedance values for the Settlement Agreement flows and several other flow scenarios. Bechtel reviewed the results of their latest modeling efforts to assess the effect that higher flows through the Canyon Dam low-level outlet during July and August would have on instream flow temperatures in the Belden Reach. To achieve 50% exceedance at 19ºC during July and August, releases would be 200cfs and 500cfs, respectively at Canyon Dam. To achieve 70% exceedance at 19ºC during July with 200cfs released through Canyon Dam, flow would be reduced through Caribou 1 and 2 by an additional 260cfs, while during August with 400cfs released at Canyon Dam, an additional 460cfs reduction through the Caribous would be required. If the outflows from Lake Almanor are swapped between the Prattville Intake and Canyon Dam, then 70% exceedance can be achieved in July with a 275cfs release through Canyon Dam and in August, with a 575cfs release (For details of the modeling results, see Attachment 2).
Alternative B does not appear to significantly affect temperature profiles in Lake Almanor, however more significant effects are expected in Butt Valley Reservoir including higher surface temperatures, a lower thermocline, and colder water below the thermocline. The sub-group reminded the 2105LG that such effects were not analyzed during development of these alternatives because that is a central task of the CEQA process. Each of the alternatives have expected impacts that would be analyzed in detail in the CEQA document.
PG&E distributed a summary table describing the various high Seneca flow release scenarios considered (Attachment 3) and noted that runs D4 and D5 meet the downstream Western Canal water contract requirements. The 2105LG discussed the potential implications of this scenario to Lake Almanor surface elevations, downstream water delivery contracts, and power production from the powerhouses in the system. Plumas County suggested there may be some flexibility in the Western Canal contract and indicated they would initiate a discussion with elected officials to pursue the possibility of altering the contracted delivery dates. PG&E noted that the modeling information developed for this alternative would be made available to FERC and the CEQA contractor to assist in their efforts.
Alternative C – Mechanical Options
PG&E described Alternative C as a collection of various options, which could be combined in various groups to achieve localized temperature modifications. While Alternative C may include some flow swapping as described in Alternative B, it is more focused on measures that cool some portion of the river by mechanical means such as: diverting some river flow through cooling towers or chillers before returning the flow to the river; tapping into power water through adit tunnels and routing that water through a chiller; and diverting Yellow Creek. The mechanical options included in Alternative C are described in the document ‘Evaluation of Alternatives to Provide Cooler Water in the North Fork Feather River’, which has been provided in draft form to the 2105LG. PG&E agreed to provide the latest version of the document in electronic form to the 2105LG.
PG&E discussed the chiller/cooling tower footprint superimposed on potential sites within the project area and distributed an aerial photo footprint showing the Belden Tunnel Adit location approximately 1.8 miles downstream of the dam (Attachment 4). The 2105LG also viewed a comparably sized facility (the Budweiser beer plant in Fairfield) for scale and discussed the potential effects of such a cooling facility constructed within the Feather River canyon.
Action Item: PG&E will provide latest version of ‘Evaluation of Alternatives to Provide Cooler Water in the North Fork Feather River’ to the 2105LG distribution list.
Alternative D – Upstream Restoration
Plumas County described Alternative D as an off-site option designed to mitigate impairments to water temperature within the project boundary by restoring hydrologic function and ecological attributes to the North Fork Feather River’s upper watershed outside the project boundary. This alternative assumes that the on-site options are not feasible or reasonable so mitigation is conducted off-site. The SWRCB agreed that off-site mitigation could be an alternative but reminded the 2105LG that CEQA considers avoidance first, then mitigation on-site and only after those options are exhausted, considers off-site mitigation to address project impacts.
Alternative D includes funding for archival management of data, seed money for demonstrated effective restoration activities, a monitoring program, strategic plan for on-going funding, maintenance and repair dollars, and quantification of a dollar/mile effort to fund both pond and plug meadow restoration and riparian planting. The 2105LG discussed the potential for litigation associated with some of the potential alternatives and agreed that if these decisions end up in court, it will be expensive and time-consuming.
Lake Almanor homeowners provided a copy of comments made at a FERC public hearing by Bob Orange, game warden in Plumas County and asked that they be considered. The comments outline several issues associated with Project fisheries and includes a suggestion to improve fisheries by increased regulation enforcement through the funding of a game warden. This position would focus on enforcement activities within the 2105 project boundary and improving access to streams that feed NFFR, by improvements of culverts and other fish barriers. Mr. Orange also suggests the fish barrier created by the gauging station on Butt Creek just above Butt Lake be modified by the addition of a fish ladder. An electronic version of the comment document will be acquired and distributed to the 2105LG.
Action Item: Acquire electronic version of Bob Orange comment document and distribute to the 2105LG.
Next Steps – Decision-Making Process
The 2105LG discussed the collaborative decision-making process and considered what the outcome of the sub-group efforts should be. The 2105 Committee requested that the 2105LG follow their protocols and come to a consensus regarding which if any alternative will be supported. While acknowledging that the CEQA analysis will evaluate Alternative A to some degree, the 2105LG agreed that Alternative A has no collaborative support. The 2105LG informally identified Alternative D as the favored option, with Alternative B and C tied in second, however further discussion is needed to identify the next steps for the 2105LG. The 2105LG discussed whether or not an amendment to the Settlement Agreement would be the appropriate action and agreed to discuss this and the significance of the 2105LG continuing as a means of gaining consensus on re-licensing issues, during the next meeting.
The 2105LG agreed to discuss the future of the 2105LG at the next meeting and consider how the 2105LG final consensus will be provided to FERC and the SWRCB. The 2105LG also agreed to further define Alternative D without the use of a sub-committee. PG&E will provide a CEQA update and response to the NOAA prescription.
The 2105LG agreed to the following meeting schedule:
May 24 Chico
June 22 Chico
Attachment 1: List of Attendees
Bob Baiocchi Anglers Committee
Don Bay Property Owner
Kim Davis Sen. Sam Aanestad
Bill Dennison Plumas County Supervisor
Wendi Durkin Save Lake Almanor
Wayne Dyok MWH
Richard Fording Save Lake Almanor Committee
Christi Goodman Plumas County
Teri Gorham PG&E
Tom Hunter Plumas County
Tom Jereb PG&E
Patti Kroen Facilitator
Bob Lambert 2105 Committee
Fred Locher Bechtel
MaryLisa Lynch CDFG
Bruce McGurk PG&E
Paris Moore Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Lori Powers CDFG
Stuart Running PG&E
Vincent Sansone, M.D. Lake Almanor
John Schooling West Almanor Comm. Club
Aaron Seandel 2105 Committee
Fred Shanks Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Terri Simon-Jackson USFS
Larry Stevenson Homeowner
Sharon Stohrer SWRCB
Mike Taylor USFS
Eric Theiss NOAA
Scott Tu PG&E
Janet Walther PG&E
Mike Wilhoit 2105 Committee
Ed Wing West Almanor owner