Project 2105 License Group (2105LG) Approved Meeting Summary
July 29, 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. The Facilitator distributed copies of the June 22, 2005 draft meeting summary and noted there was one suggested revision indicated in redline/strikeout on the handout. Jim Wilcox requested a revision to indicate that the contract with Plumas County is with the Feather River CRM and not him. With those revisions, the 2105LG approved the summary (Attachment 2). The Facilitator also distributed a comment letter (Attachment 3) received from the Anglers Committee with the request that it be included in the formal record of the collaborative. The Facilitator explained that by distributing it to the 2105LG during the meeting, the comment letter becomes part of the meeting summary.
Review of ‘24 Alternatives’ Document
PG&E distributed a document titled “Rock Creek-Cresta Project, FERC Project No. 1962 License Condition 4D Report on Water Temperature Monitoring and Additional Reasonable Water Temperature Control Measures, July 2005” and explained that the information contained in the document represents PG&E’s last 20 years’ water temperature work in the Feather River watershed. The document includes monitoring data and, while it is a requirement of the Rock Creek-Cresta license and as such will be filed with FERC and used by the ERC of the Rock Creek-Cresta proceedings, it is also expected to provide valuable information for use in both the 2105 and the 2107 relicensing efforts. Plumas County expressed concern that the document has been forwarded to FERC without first circulating it to the ERC as a draft document. PG&E noted that according to the Rock Creek Cresta license, it was not a requirement to circulate the Condition 4D Report to the ERC for comment prior to filing with FERC. An electronic version of the document is very large and therefore is not included as an attachment to this summary. Copies of the bound document are available from PG&E on request.
The 2105LG reviewed the document, which PG&E explained is organized into three parts to target the needs of different readers. Part 1 of the document includes an executive summary and a brief description of potential water temperature control alternatives for the reader seeking a general overview of the report and its findings. Part 2 is a detailed report with a more comprehensive presentation of the background for the report, the studies performed, alternatives considered and conclusions. Part 3 consists of references and detailed study results used in preparation of the report. PG&E noted that the referenced documents have been provided to the participating technical experts through other filings.
PG&E concluded that none of the 24 alternatives provide a reasonable control measure for attaining the 20°C water temperature goal. The 2105LG discussed what is meant by the term ‘reasonable’ and noted it should include cost, siting, feasibility, environmental constraints, etc. The report will be reviewed and used by the Rock Creek-Cresta ERC to make an affirmative determination if there are any reasonable measures to achieve the 20°C water temperature goal. The 2105LG discussed the potential to receive contradictory directions from mandatory conditioning agencies and questioned if that happens, who the ultimate authority would be. It was noted that FERC typically defers to the state water board on water quality issues. The Anglers Committee asked PG&E if they feel it is unreasonable for PG&E to provide cold water to the river and PG&E responded that it is not unreasonable if a feasible alternative is found.
Jim Wilcox with the Feather River CRM provided a slide presentation on the CRM’s efforts in the upper Feather River watershed to restore hydraulic function. He described the characteristics of the North Fork Feather River watershed and described the loss of floodplain connection, vegetative structure, biological processes, physical inputs, and chemical processes within the upper watershed meadows. The presentation included ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of CRM projects and included thermal images taken by low altitude helicopter flights that highlight variations in surface water temperatures within the creeks surveyed. Cross-sections highlighted the extensive down cutting occurring in selected creeks that result in the isolation of the current creek from its remnant channels and the original floodplain. Jim explained how the restoration efforts utilize a pond and plug technique to redirect creek flow and eliminate the deeply gullied channels. Incised channels that could not be effectively treated with the pond and plug technique are treated with the addition of vegetation, vanes, and placed wood to restore habitat and function.
The presentation included graphs that indicate a rebound of groundwater levels and flow duration increases post restoration activities. The presentation also included preliminary data that indicate fish population numbers in Cottonwood Creek have increased post implementation in addition to positive responses in water temperature, riparian habitat and terrestrial species. The 2105LG discussed the positive benefit of reduced sedimentation input to downstream reaches and the potential for additional sub-surface water storage in the upper watershed and subsequent delayed release of that water downstream. The preliminary conclusion of the CRM is that upper watershed rehabilitation using techniques that become self-sustaining provides benefits to water quality (temperature and sedimentation), riparian habitat, aquatic species, and aesthetics. Jim noted that additional data and monitoring is needed to quantify both local and potential downstream water temperature benefits.
Review Alternative D Document
The 2105LG sub-group tasked to further develop draft language describing the ‘Alternative D’ or off-site mitigation alternative provided copies of the North Fork Feather River Watershed Restoration Alternative (Attachment 4). The 2105LG reviewed and suggested revisions to the document based on their discussions during the meeting. It was agreed that “Alternative D” would henceforth be referred to as “Watershed Restoration and Improvement Alternative.” The FS suggested that the alternative should focus on habitat restoration and identify the full range of potential benefits rather than be limited to water temperature benefits. The 2105LG discussed the cost calculation options provided by the sub-group and agreed more time is needed to discuss and further develop this portion of the alternative.
Development of Recommendations to CEQA Process
The 2105LG agreed that the draft alternative text without the cost calculations should be forwarded to SWRCB to be included in the Notice of Preparation currently being developed by the CEQA contractor to initiate the CEQA scoping process.
The 2105LG will continue to work on the cost calculations and forward additional information to SWRCB at a later date. To provide a better estimate of the total costs to be expected under the Watershed Restoration and Improvement Alternative, Jim Wilcox agreed to use the list that he had provided and add all of the potential costs, including monitoring and long-term maintenance. Jim will attempt to provide those estimates by the middle of August.
Once completed the Facilitator will forward the completed list 2105LG for approval and then to SWRCB as part of the Watershed Restoration and Improvement Alternative.
CEQA Update and Preliminary Schedule
PG&E provided the following update on the CEQA process forwarded by SWRCB who was unable to attend the meeting:
Progress is underway by the CEQA contractors in the review of a partial set of documents related to the project. Additional information has been requested and SWRCB awaits hydrology data, temperature and water quality models and the final report of the 24 alternatives from PG&E. PG&E noted that much of the additional information has been sent to SWRCB and the remaining modeling information will be sent the first week of August. SWRCB staff plans to hold a CEQA Scoping Meeting/Workshop in Chester on Tuesday, September 27th at Chester Memorial Hall. The program will be held during the afternoon and evening to assist interested parties that wish to attend. A detailed Notice of Preparation will be issued at the end of August and will include a notice of the public meetings, which will also be noticed in the local newspaper. Completion of the final schedule for EIR development and the CEQA compliance process remains dependent on the receipt of data and models requested.
Future Meeting Schedule – Next Steps
The 2105LG discussed progress in the development of the Marvin Alexander Beach. PG&E has contacted FERC to determine if additional environmental documentation is necessary in advance of project development. The 2105LG discussed the possibility that additional permits may be required. CDFG will investigate if a Streambed Alteration permit would be necessary for construction of this settlement agreement project. PG&E noted that they prefer to complete this recreational day-use area as an interim project in 2005 under the existing FERC license and added that no construction activity is anticipated within Lake Almanor or the shoreline fluctuation zone. Bill Dennison said that Plumas requests that the name “Marvin Alexander Beach” be used, just as noted in the April 23, 2004 Settlement Agreement and not be changed to “Marvin Alexander Day Use Area”. He noted that if this change is being suggested as a means of stopping over-night camping that “NO CAMPING” signs be posted.
Responding to a request for this information, PG&E distributed a schedule of meetings associated with the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council and noted that the website www.stewardshipcouncil.org contains additional information about this group.
The 2105LG agreed to the following meeting schedule:
August 24 Chico
September 22 Chico
Attachment 1: List of Attendees
Dawn Alvarez USFS
Bob Baiocchi Anglers Committee
Kim Davis Senator Sam Aanestad’s office
Bill Dennison Plumas County
Wayne Dyok MWH
Lorena Gorbet MCDG
Tom Hunter Plumas County
Tom Jereb PG&E
Patti Kroen Facilitator
Bob Lambert 2105 Committee
Bruce McGurk PG&E
Lori Powers CDFG
Stuart Running PG&E
Aaron Seandel 2105 Committee
Fred Shanks Property Owner at Lake Almanor
Mike Taylor USFS
Scott Tu PG&E
Jim Wilcox Feather River CRM
Bill Zemke PG&E