Project 2105 License Group (2105LG) Draft Meeting Summary
January 26, 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 minor additions to provide an update on a meeting between SWRCB and Assemblyman Rick Keene’s office and clarification on PG&E’s thermal curtain statement. The Facilitator distributed copies of the November 9, 2004 meeting summary as drafted with comments from Bill Dennison included and asked for replacement language from Bill to address the concerns raised. The 2105LG agreed to defer approval of the summary until after revised language is circulated for review. Please note that after the meeting, the Facilitator received a message from USFWS that they had been unsuccessful in telephoning into the meeting and suggested in the future, a number be provided to alert the 2105LG to technical difficulties so that an effort can be made to rectify the problem during the meeting. In the future, the Facilitator will provide an emergency number with each agenda that can be used by participants in the event the teleconferencing is not working. The Facilitator can monitor that number during the meeting and attempt to rectify whatever technical difficulty is preventing participation.
Bob Lambert reported back to the 2105LG on his recent efforts to develop a calendar page for the Website. He explained that he had linked the meeting dates to agendas when available and he added that summaries and other documents continue to be posted when appropriate. The 2105LG agreed that the calendar as developed meets their needs and thanked Bob for his continuing efforts.
Aaron Seandel reported that in conversation with DWR, he learned that DWR may not have adequate funding for water quality monitoring in Lake Almanor this year and asked if PG&E intended to assist in the funding of additional water quality monitoring for 2005. PG&E responded that development of a water quality monitoring plan as described in the license application and settlement agreement would be implemented upon receipt of a new license from FERC. Currently, PG&E has no license requirement nor established funding agreement with DWR or others to provide water quality sampling and monitoring in Lake Almanor under the existing license. Sampling and monitoring conducted over the past few years by PG&E was in support of relicensing efforts and not part of any ongoing monitoring conducted by DWR. Plumas County suggested that they might be able to provide some funding for a sampling effort this year.
ACTION ITEM: Plumas County will follow-up with DWR to determine their plan for sampling in 2005 and anticipated budget needs.
PG&E provided a brief update on Lake Almanor water level and indicated he expects the lake to achieve over a million acre-feet this year unless the rest of the season turns very dry.
Update on Sub-Committee Meeting: PG&E distributed and discussed their recent letter submittal to FERC in response to FERC’s December 17, 2004 additional information request. PG&E provided FERC with a CD including results from the seven principle studies assessing the feasibility of obtaining colder water in the North Fork Feather River as well as the evaluation of ten additional alternatives to provide colder water. The letter also provided a summary of the status of ongoing collaborative discussions and included the PG&E statement that “Based on studies and information to date, PG&E does not anticipate recommending a floating thermal curtain in Lake Almanor…”. PG&E reiterated that the language in the statement represents their position at this time regarding the thermal curtain. PG&E also noted that FERC has asked for similar report status and updates for the Poe Project (2107) and has been sent that information as well as the source code for the SNTEMP modeling effort. The 2105LG expressed some concern that the 2107 relicensing effort would slow down the 2105 effort and the group acknowledged that the projects are intertwined on the subject of water temperature.
PG&E distributed and discussed the latest version of the Evaluation of Alternatives to Provide Cooler Water in the North Fork Feather River, dated December 2004. The latest version includes an analysis of mechanical water chillers. The conclusion reached by PG&E is that the chillers are not feasible due to the anticipated high energy costs to operate and the lack of an adequate footprint for construction at appropriate locations within the canyon. PG&E also reported that they have contracted with Black & Veatch to conduct additional feasibility studies to evaluate the Yellow Creek piping alternative. The sub-committee eliminated a number of the alternatives under consideration but continues to evaluate possible combinations to achieve the desired temperature reductions. Plumas County noted that while in their evaluation document PG&E concluded that none of the alternatives examined hold much promise in isolation, FERC would do an independent review and assessment of each alternative and formulate their own conclusions.
The FS reported back to the full 2105LG on their field trip to look for potential locations for cooling towers or chillers and identified possible locations with adequate size: Rogers Flat and two possible locations below Belden Dam. The sub-committee discussed other constraints that would need to be addressed for such construction including environmental permitting, aesthetic effects and engineering challenges.
The 2105LG discussed the potential to provide significant benefits to upstream river reaches outside of the FERC project boundary but within the watershed through vegetation management and other restoration activities. SWRCB staff emphasized the need to identify water temperature benefits to the NFFR that might be seen from East Branch tributary riparian improvements. SWRCB suggested that PG&E should gather temperature data in the East Branch to monitor stream temperatures this year. Data nodes within the East Branch would be required as input for any stream temperature modeling effort that could provide predictions for rates of warming as flow moves through the lower 13.3 miles of the East Branch to its confluence with the NFFR. Plumas County noted that much data already exists but it is not readily accessible or coordinated. However, Plumas County and the USFS were uncertain whether temperature data was available for the lower reach of the East Branch. PG&E offered to research what data are available from various sources including DWR, FS, PG&E, and the local watershed committee and report back to the 2105LG in February.
The FS described the process that the sub-committee is undertaking to add detail to the two additional alternatives suggested for analysis within the CEQA process (in addition to the evaluation expected for the thermal curtain alternative). Alternative 2 would generally involve approximately 325cfs flow down Seneca Reach, some re-operation of Caribou 1 and Caribou 2, adit water injection under certain conditions, and a cooling unit at Rogers Flat. PG&E reported that they have consultants looking at various operational schemes taking into account daily temperatures, operating conditions, water delivery commitments and Lake Almanor and Butt Valley temperature effects. Their report is expected in about six weeks.
Alternative 3 would involve upstream, off-site mitigation. The FS described how this action would comply with NEPA direction and the SWRCB agreed that CEQA would also allow for off-site, in-kind mitigation but requires that they first examine reasonable alternatives to mitigate the direct impacts of the project on water temperature within the project area before considering off-site measures. Alternative 3 would require seed money for watershed restoration activities and would include funding for the archival management of data, a monitoring program, strategic planning for funding, ‘pond and plug’ activities for a definitive number of stream miles, and on-going funding for necessary repair and maintenance for the life of the license term. The 2105LG discussed information collected and distributed by Plumas County that identifies available information and data gaps that the archival portion of this alternative would be designed to address.
ACTION ITEM: PG&E agreed to contact Leah Wills (Plumas County), FS, DFG, DWR and others to determine what temperature data exist for the portion of the watershed between Indian Creek and Spanish Creek and what effort would be required to fill the gaps.
PG&E noted that they consider this to be a watershed effort, not solely the responsibility of PG&E, and would be looking for collaborative planning and partnering with some funding from others.
NOAA Update: PG&E described their understanding of the status of NOAA efforts to prescribe fish passage within the Upper North Fork. The current proposal envisions a joint effort between DWR and PG&E whereby DWR would be responsible for trapping adults below Oroville Dam and trucking them to various locations within PG&E FERC boundaries for release. PG&E would then be responsible for trapping the juveniles and transporting them below Oroville Dam for release. PG&E indicated that they are not interested in participating in such a program. The 2105LG discussed the potential effects a prescribed fish passage program could have on decisions made within the collaborative and Plumas County reported they had informed NOAA that they would not support any plan that would affect Lake Almanor water levels. The 2105LG discussed the relationship between the Yellow Creek piping alternative and NOAA’s potential to place anadromous salmonids in that drainage and also the issue of potential disease reintroduction with fish passage to the upper watershed. It was noted that DWR has filed a notice of intervention with FERC for the 2105 process due to the fish passage issue.
ACTION ITEM: The Facilitator will contact NOAA and inquire about their water temperature expectations related to the fish passage prescription and get an update regarding their current proposal.
FERC Process Update/EIS Schedule: PG&E reported that FERC had indicated in a letter to an Indian Tribe that they expect to release a final EIS in May. It is unclear if FERC expects to include additional analysis on the water temperature issue in a final EIS or provide a second draft document for review. FERC has also scheduled a 10(j) conference call to discuss the issues raised by the USFWS that remain unresolved. PG&E has been asked to listen in but will not actively participate in the conversation.
CEQA Process Update: PG&E and SWRCB have evaluated proposals received from consultants to prepare the CEQA document. SWRCB staff have selected the candidate firm that can best meet the needs for development of an adequate EIR, and have requested that PG&E make an offer of contract to that firm. PG&E expects to make an offer to the selected consultant within the next 2-3 weeks. Once a contract is signed between PG&E and the selected consultant and a Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the consultant and SWRCB, an announcement will be made and a schedule prepared. SWRCB added that the schedule would be prepared immediately, and following that the consultant will begin the evaluation of available data and reports. SWRCB also reported briefly on two meetings held with Assemblyman Keene’s office to discuss an accelerated evaluation of the thermal curtain using available data. The SWRCB reiterated that the thermal curtain would be analyzed as part of the CEQA process. Plumas County reminded the 2105LG that the lengthy CEQA process negatively affects the ability of the County to realize the benefits negotiated in the settlement agreement and allows PG&E to defer implementation of those measures negotiated until after license issuance which is contingent on completion of the CEQA process and 401 certification. However, Plumas County agreed that the opportunity to include additional alternatives for temperature mitigation may be time well spent.
The 2105LG determined that additional new information would not be available in time to support the February 16th meeting date originally planned so the 2105LG agreed to defer that meeting to March 28th.
Next Steps – Next Meetings: The 2105LG agreed to the following meeting schedule:
February 16 Chico CANCELLED
March 28 Chico
April 27 Chico
February 8 Sacramento
March 4 Sacramento
April 21 TBD
Bill Dennison Plumas County Supervisor
Wayne Dyok MWH
Christi Goodman Plumas County
Bob Hawkins USFS
Tom Hunter Plumas County
Bob Lambert 2105 Committee
Sharon Stohrer SWRCB
Tom Jereb PG&E
Lori Powers CDFG
Bruce McGurk PG&E
Stuart Running PG&E
Aaron Seandel 2105 Committee
Mike Taylor USFS
Terri Simon-Jackson USFS
Scott Tu PG&E
Kristen Petersen Assemblyman Keene’s Office
Paris Moor Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Robert Gallagher Property Owner at Lake Almanor
John Dandl Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Fred Shanks Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Mr.& Mrs. C. Piepenburg Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Jim Carwder Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Patti Kroen Facilitator