Project 2105 License Group (2105LG) Meeting Summary
August 2, 2004
Call to order: Patti Kroen, Facilitator at 9:00 a.m.
Attendees: See Attachment 1 for list of attendees. The 2105LG approved the draft agenda for the meeting without change. New participants to the collaborative were encouraged to become familiar with the 2105LG collaborative’s adopted protocols.
Rationale Document Update: Progress is slow but the intention is still to submit to document to FERC in the next few months. The document will provide the logic behind decisions agreed to in the course of reaching settlement.
Update on Public Meetings: The facilitator and other participants that attended the meetings updated the 2105LG on several recent public meetings held in Chester and Chico. The meetings were well attended. Many questions were raised related to the definition of ‘reasonable’, timing of the decision, and balancing resource benefits and impacts. Questions were raised regarding the possible reduction in the habitat area within the thermocline, potential algal blooms and increased waterweeds. Others questioned the proposal to perform underwater dredging and the potential to impact submerged cultural resources including a Native American cemetery off shore near Prattville.
The local community is interested in having their voice heard on the subject of modifications to Prattville and the meetings are an effort to further engage the public in the process. USFS suggested that the public meetings were similar to scoping and he had attended them to hear the public issues. He considers such input important when evaluating what the effects of the action would be and if those effects can be mitigated. Participants noted that the mood in Chester is hostile toward any modification and political pressure is mounting. The facilitator noted that the questions and answers from the previous public meeting have been posted on the 2105 web site.
Water Temperature Modeling Update: PG&E presented a brief history of the modeling activities for those in attendance that are unfamiliar with the effort and then explained that four scenarios have recently been studied: 1) Baseline (current conditions); 2) Prattville Curtain without levees; 3) Prattville Curtain without levees and one curtain in Butt Valley Reservoir; and 4) Prattville Curtain without levees and two curtains in Butt Valley Reservoir. See Attachment 3 for details of presentation. The following points were noted and/or discussed by the 2105LG:
· Review of results using first five-year flow plan (Rock Creek-Cresta agreement) indicate that August is the most critical month.
· Temperature increase at surface of Lake Almanor is expected to be ~ 0.5°C. This should not significantly affect evaporation rates on the lake.
· Based on a PG&E 2000 study, spring inflow to Lake Almanor is estimated to be between 300-400 cfs. The model uses a conservative rate of inflow from the springs.
· Unclear which temperature change scenario (starting conditions) Tom Payne used when estimating impact to Lake Almanor fishery.
· Dredging costs are estimated to be approximately $2-3 million. Benefits from dredging are most pronounced in August.
· Blending at Canyon Dam by releasing a portion of the water from both gates is used in the model to assist in temperature management and preserve cold water pool in Lake Almanor. The model assumes that 60 cfs will be released from the lower gate and the remainder from the upper gate.
· Blending may reduce the hydrogen sulfide smell resulting from the release of low dissolved oxygen (DO) water at Canyon Dam.
· Movable curtains enabling PG&E to raise and lower them seasonally was evaluated and determined to be infeasible.
· Model predictions compare very favorably to existing conditions and the model captures trends well. PG&E suggests the model is accurate within the range of 0.2-0.5°C.
· SWRCB has responsibility to enforce the Clean Water Act and protect designated beneficial uses by setting objectives to protect those uses. SWRCB must try to protect beneficial uses for both Lake Almanor and the North Fork Feather River.
· North Fork Feather River is designated coldwater habitat and spawning habitat while Lake Almanor is designated as both a coldwater and warm water habitat.
· Lake Almanor has evolved into a premium recreational center with large developments, high property values and large capital investments. Any agreement that involves Lake Almanor must take into consideration the response from the community.
· USFS must comply with the Clean Water Act and as such will follow recommendations from the SWRCB but must first compile the scientific documentation of anticipated physical and biological impacts that supports any such recommendation.
· USFS does not require public comment on their 4(e) recommendations to FERC because the public has the opportunity to comment during FERC’s subsequent NEPA process. However, the Plumas National Forest has been active in the collaborative and supports public involvement in that process.
· The 401 Water Quality certification process requires a separate CEQA process.
· The CEQA process will provide additional public comment on the proposed action and all effects of the proposed action will be carefully examined and disclosed.
· PG&E has not re-issued the request for proposals (RFP) to prepare the CEQA document.
ACTION ITEM 1: Provide temperature profile conditions in Lake Almanor in August with the Prattville curtain. Show temperature change under different scenarios and water year types.
ACTION ITEM 2: Determine what Basin Plan designation Butt Valley Reservoir is managed for.
ACTION ITEM 3: Provide cost estimates for each alternative.
ACTION ITEM 4: PG&E clarify anticipated CEQA process and schedule and update 2105LG on FERC schedule.
Fisheries Update: PG&E provided a presentation on the latest preliminary data from fisheries Temperature-Conditioned Relative Suitability Index study. For details see Attachment 3. It was noted that the data is preliminary and subject to changes with consideration of comments on the study plan. The 2105LG discussed the study plan and CDFG and SWRCB indicated they intend to submit comments on the study methodology. The following points were noted and/or discussed by the 2105LG:
· Four species examined: trout, hardhead, pike minnow, and sucker. Studies will be re-run once methodology is approved if changes warrant.
· What studies have been conducted or are planned to assess the impact to the coldwater fishery in Lake Almanor?
· The only fishery study in Butt Valley Reservoir focuses on the reduction of pond smelt input to the reservoir.
ACTION ITEM 5: Provide a draft notice to post on the 2105 web site indicating the preliminary nature of the documents posted and that all documents are subject to change. Upon approval by 2105LG, post notice.
Next Steps - Focus for Next Meeting:
The 2105LG discussed the building frustration in the local community and their desire to have the Lake Almanor issues addressed and included on future meeting agendas for discussion. A statement by Bill Dennison representing Plumas County and the 2105 Committee is attached to this summary. The 2105LG agreed to next meet in Chester and discussed how to get answers to the questions asked. Mike Taylor offered to compile the list of questions for the collaborative and the 2105LG agreed that the next meeting in Chester would focus on Lake Almanor and Butt Valley ecological issues resulting from water temperature modification. The 2105LG agreed to the following upcoming meeting dates and locations:
Date Location Time
September 2 2105LG Chester 10am – 4pm
October 14 2105LG Chester (?) 10am – 4pm
November 9 2105LG TBD 10am – 4pm
Marvin Alexander 2105 Committee
Doug Brewer Jones and Stokes
Bill Cheek 2105 Committee
Fred Davis Property owner
Bill Dennison Plumas County Supervisor
Wayne Dyok MWH
Tom Engels Jones and Stokes
Richard Fording Lake Almanor resident
Christi Goodman Plumas County
Robert Hughes CDFG
Tom Hunter Plumas County
Birdie Johnston Property owner
C. Johnston Property owner
Patti Kroen Kroen
Bob Lambert 2105 Committee
Bruce McGurk PG&E
Paris Moore Property owner
Stuart Running PG&E
John Schooling WACC Board
Aaron Seandel 2105 Committee
Fred Shanks Property owner
Sharon Stohrer SWRCB
Mike Taylor USFS
Eric Theiss NOAA Fisheries
Scott Tu PG&E
Mike Wilhoit 2105 Committee
Harry Williamson NPS
Ed Wing Property owner
Greta Wing Property owner
Bill Zemke PG&E
Jerry Zimmers Property owner
Statement on behalf
Plumas County Supervisor and Chair 2105 Committee
August 2, 2004
Plumas County was one of the initiators of the 2105 LG process for a means of developing a negotiated settlement of the important issues within the authority of the FERC Project #2105 (NFFR) re-licensing process. We have listened and participated intently in all of the negotiations and found the signed April 24, 2004 agreement to have been accomplished with scientific guidelines and in a timely manner. The process worked well.
On the other hand the review and discussions of the unresolved water temperature issue (to decrease the water temperature in the Rock Creek and Cresta Reaches (RC/C) to at least 20 degree Celsius) has become a time-consuming and frustrating process driven by guidelines that were implemented under the FERC Project #1962 (RC/C) re-licensing agreement. Those provisions provide little encouragement that members of the 2105 LG will make the final decisions regarding the appropriateness of any water temperature requirements. (See Section I, 2. Prattville Intake Control Measure, which states in part: “The Ecological Resources Committee that was established with those that signed the RC/C agreement (Parties) and FS will evaluate the effectiveness of such control measures after review of the study results.)
It is obvious that concerns during the Project #1962 re-licensing were only for the cold water fish in those areas and there was no consideration about the obvious degradation to be expected in Lake Almanor and Butt Reservoir from the 50% reduction of the Lake Almanor cold water pool.
During the past three months, Plumas has attempted to display patience in the development of scientific data by PG&E and maintain our important collaborative role.
We will continue to be involved in the search for “reasonableness” in the water temperature solution, that we believe is basic to the guidelines within Project 1962.
However, we take this opportunity to elaborate our concerns and direction that we believe is necessary to reach a resolution within a reasonable time-period:
a) The requirements for 20 degrees Celsius down-river was set in the negotiated settlement without regard to earlier studies and agreements, including the following:
1) November 1, 1996 Draft EIA statement: “Based on the results of physical modeling studies and their projected temperature benefits, PG&E and California Fish and Game have separately concluded that equal, or greater protection and enhancement of NFFR fishery resources would result if PG&E provides funds for fishery enhancement projects than if PG&E fulfills the Agreement….Therefore, CDF&G and PG&E have agreed to amend the Agreement by deleting the requirement to modify the Prattville intake structure…..”
2) In the December 28, 1999 study completed for PG&E by Resource Decisions, many points were made, including the following:
· “Because food and not temperature is probably the limiting factor, that additional 1 degree Celsius due to temperature modification would not have any further effect on use.”
· “The temperature modification proposal does not come close to justifying its cost, as calculated by FERC methods. Whether it is considered as a self-standing option, or a combination of the 1991 Agreement, or the CDF&G proposal, that annual cost of $1.9 million is not a cost-effective way to spend the ratepayer’s money.”
3) Ron DeCota, a long-time CDF&G fish biologist, who helped manage Lake Almanor Fisheries wrote in a June 2003 letter; “We are not willing to take the chance that our concerns will not upset the delicate ecological balance in these two prized trophy trout lakes. Therefore, we recommend the feasibility study be abandoned and deepwater releases at Prattville (and Canyon Dam) not be pursued.”
4) A June 8, 2003 news release by University of Iowa described their modeling of the Prattville Intake Modification measure and quoted Professor A. Joe Odgaard as saying that “…a continuous withdrawal of only cold water would delete the lakes cold water supply, resulting in damage to the lake habitat.”
b) Very little scientific data has been presented that describes the Prattville Intake Modification impacts to Lake Almanor and Butt Reservoir. However, we have been assured that:
1) There are no sound data to measure the amount of the cold-water springs, nor to provide assurance of the original temperature of water downstream
2) There will be a reduction of up to 40% in salmonid habitat in Lake Almanor
3) A serious loss of the pond smelt that is an important part of the Butt Reservoir food source and primary reason for the Butt Reservoir trophy fish.
c) Dredging of 40,000 Cu.Yds. of mud from the lake bottom canals will be possibly deposited on the Prattville shores.
d) Maidu Tribe Cultural sites in the lake bottom cannot be properly surveyed.
e) SWRCB has designated the Rock Creek/Cresta Reaches as cold-water habitat, when in fact it provides habitat for hard head and other warm water fish that must be protected.
f) Our requests have not been met for intensive studies of Lake Almanor to assure that the ecological and fisheries integrity will be maintained.
g) The minimal study attempts have not taken into account the diversity of the Lake Almanor depth, width and underwater springs and the severe negative impact on fisheries that will result with the removal of 50% of the cold-water pool and a lowering of the lake level.
h) The study to evaluate the effects of water temperature on downstream fish habitat presented by PG&E during our August 2nd meeting was challenged by F.S., CDF&G and SWRCB, because they had not had adequate time to review the methodology utilized by PG&E. This is another, unacceptable delay.
i) PG&E for the past several months has indicated the need to contract the Draft EIR, yet as of August 2nd, the RPF for these contracts had not been let. This is another, unacceptable delay.
j) The necessity to amend the FERC Project #1962 License to assure that the final decision for water temperature modifications of any type will be made by the Parties within the 2105 LG, as well as the Rock Creek/Cresta ERC.
k) The Public has not been afforded a timely intervention into the 2105 LG due to protocols that have kept the meeting notes and printed studies from being publicized in a timely manner.
l) Because of k), we believe that sincere public input will be minimized, when in fact there are many, including fishing guides, private hydrologists and others who “know the lake” that could provide invaluable information.
m) The PG&E amended water temperature presentation during the August 2 meeting provided even lower assurance that the Prattville Intake Modification will be effective.
n) We are in agreement with Mr. Marvin Alexander’s earlier statement that the water temperature resolution lacks credibility and that it is actually a political issue.
Therefore, as we continue to be part of the collaborative group, Plumas County will:
a) Help to assure that all constituents, elected officials and agency leaders are kept apprised of the water temperature issue so that they can be involved in the scientific facts and the socio-economic debate.
b) Attempt to amend the Rock Creek/Cresta agreement through participation in ERC and discussions within
2105 LG to assure that Parties of both groups are involved in any water temperature modification proposals.
c) Request that FERC assist us in developing a time-table that will not permit these issues to delay the implementation of the FERC Project #2105 license. In other words, we will request that the license be accepted, as we continue to work towards a reasonable resolution of the water temperature issue.
d) Invite members of the 2105 LG to participate in any meetings that we may schedule with key individuals within the agency that they represent.
e) Review the potential for conducting a “Use Attainability Analysis” to determine if the Rock Creek/Cresta Reaches are truly cold-water systems.
f) Request that future 2105 LG meetings be conducted as if under the authority of the Brown Act, so that full public participation, including formal meeting notifications can be assured. This is based on the understanding that whereas our agreed protocol served the 2105 LG for settlement of the majority of our issues, this water temperature issue needs a broader public review.
It is important to reiterate that Plumas County intends to be an active partner in the 2105 LG, the RC/C ERC, and Poe re-licensing, so that reasonable, timely resolutions will be reached.
We thank you for this opportunity to provide our concerns and the future direction that we will be seeking.
Attachment 3 PG&E Presentations