July 4, 2007 Chester Progressive article – Where I Stand
Sherrie Thrall, Plumas County Supervisor, District 3
Summer has arrived and with it time for an update on the FERC 2105 re-licensing project. As you all may recall, a partial settlement agreement was signed in 2004, providing for numerous enhancements and protections related to lake levels, recreation, water quality, and other items. FERC completed its environmental review in late 2005, and we are now at the point where the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) must certify that the new FERC license will satisfy federal and state water quality requirements.
Plumas County and the Plumas County 2105 Committee have been in a holding pattern for most of this year while the SWRCB has been working on the environmental review that is central to its water quality certification. As part of its compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the SWRCB is reviewing 23 alternatives assembled by PG&E for reducing water temperatures in the Rock Creek and Cresta reaches of the North Fork of the Feather River. It has been reported that the original 23 alternatives had expanded to about 53 scenarios, and the SWRCB is in the process of narrowing down the options to a final proposal and about three alternatives for complete analysis in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). So far, it is our understanding that the thermal curtain alternative we have worked so hard to defeat remains in review and consideration.
Since the beginning of 2007, based on information from the SWRCB, we have been under the impression a pared down list of alternatives would be developed and identified by SWRCB prior to the end of August. Their stated goal was to issue their draft EIR before the end of this year.
This week we received word SWRCB is behind on announcing their final alternatives. They have an administrative draft report that has not gone through management review and therefore cannot be released. When it is released, there is the possibility the report might recommend additional research and further extend the process.
subsite What all this means "in English" is the information we have been awaiting is delayed again; it now appears the report containing temperature alternatives may not be available until after the New Year.
Once the alternatives are announced, a draft EIR is expected to follow shortly, at which point Plumas County, other agencies, and the public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the SWRCB proposals.
It is our opinion at least one - if not all - of the alternatives will propose removal of cold water from Lake Almanor. Plumas County and the 2105 Committee have decided to contract with a Fisheries Biologist with expertise in lake studies. subsite The Save Lake Almanor committee has generously agreed to help with the funding for the Biologist because it is consistent with their goal of protecting Lake Almanor. subsite The Biologist will begin by reviewing all available studies, reports and background information and work with local guides and fishing experts with the goal of determining how much, if any, cold water can be removed from Lake Almanor without adverse impact to the fisheries and other plant, insect and animal species. It is our hope this scientific study will provide the information we will need to evaluate any alternatives presented by SWRCB.
Plumas County and the 2105 Committee will continue to work hard to assure the process continues to move forward and our beautiful Lake Almanor is not harmed.