Flip Chart Notes from Water Temperature Meeting, May 24, 2004 in Chester and PG&E’s Reply Responses



·        Will it ruin the fishery in Lake Almanor as noted in the report from University of Iowa?

Response: The referenced report from the University of Iowa contains no statements about the impact of the cold water withdrawal from Lake Almanor.  Dr. Jacob Odgaard is the principle scientist and author of the report.  In the e-mail to Mr. Russell Lesko, dated June 12, 2004, Dr. Odgaard specifically answered a similar question and confirmed that no such fishery analysis was included in his study.

·        You have three alternatives and the focus is on the one that should have been thrown out (the curtain).

Response:  Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        Why take water from Almanor to cool downstream reaches?  Should take the water from someplace else.

Response:  Water temperature studies conducted indicate that Lake Almanor is the only sustainable source of cold water and therefore a controlling factor in any alternative.  The Bucks Creek Project operation has been evaluated to achieve cool water downstream.  It was concluded that the Bucks Creek Project already is operated consistent with maximizing delivery of cold water downstream.

·        Is tonight’s presentation on the web site?

Response: No

·        You are considering spending so much to provide benefits to a few downstream anglers; it is an elitist idea to benefit a few at the cost to many.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        How are kayak releases related to lost power?

Response: Yes, water released at PG&E dams for boating (kayaking) does bypass the hydropower generators and is not used for power generation.

·        Does 1-2º C. really make a difference to the fish?  Will there be more expense associated with the DO (dissolved oxygen) problem?

Response:  A decrease of 1-2 º C is expected to provide some incremental benefit to the downstream coldwater fishery (i.e., rainbow trout).  However, this cooler water may also result in some level of negative effect on the warmer water native fish assemblage (i.e., hardhead, Sacramento sucker, and Sacramento pikeminnow).  We are currently in the process of modeling the change in the fish habitat based on the projected new water temperatures in all of the downstream river reaches.  The decrease in modeled DO at Butt Valley Powerhouse is being evaluated, and no decisions have been made at this time on any specific DO mitigation method or associated costs.

·        Did downstream relicensing make this temperature decrease necessary?  If so, it was a bad deal to strike.

Response:  The relicensing of the downstream power facilities (Rock Creek-Cresta and Poe) is the principle reason for the evaluation of water temperature improvements on the Feather River.

·        What are the flow changes necessary to achieve temperatures downstream?

Response:  Changes in the amount of water released at the downstream dams has been evaluated to achieve cooler river water.  The flow changes and the resultant water temperature changes vary depending upon the various water year types, meteorology, river reach physical characteristics and starting river water temperatures.  Based on existing conditions, flow changes alone cannot meet the desired downstream temperatures.

·        How do the atmospheric conditions affect downstream water temperatures?

Response: Yes.  Solar radiations (long wave, short wave and back radiation), relative humidity, wind and air temperature greatly affect water temperatures.  The river temperature model PG&E developed fully accounts for the entire suite of meteorological parameters on the river.

·        Are there any alternatives that do not involve Lake Almanor?

Response:  Yes, in addition to the changes in river flows, water temperature structures in reservoirs and the Bucks Creek Project operation that have been evaluated, PG&E has done a preliminary evaluation of mechanical means to cool water using large cooling towers at each downstream dam.  The results show that it is not feasible.  Investigation to search for any large upstream reservoirs of other watershed such as the East Branch of the NFFR for any potential of cold-water reserve was evaluated and determined to be infeasible.  Also, riverside shading and vegetation management was considered and determined to not be effective or feasible.

·        Who determines ‘beneficial uses’ and how can those be changed?

Response:  The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) determines beneficial uses.  The SWRCB can change the beneficial use through the amendment of the Basin Plan.

·        The Rock Creek-Cresta agreement was a bad deal and the current modeling will not give the answers.

Response:  Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        Lake Almanor too valuable to be messed with.  The construction would be too disruptive and unpredictable results.  The example lakes with curtains are twice as deep as Lake Almanor.

Response:  Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        The plan will be compressing the cold water pool in the Lake.

Response:  Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        What is known about nutrient loading in the Lake?  Concerned with algal blooms with temperature changes.

Response:  Based on PG&E’s most recent water quality study conducted in 2000-2001, nutrient loading in Lake Almanor is limited.  This is in agreement with multiple years of water quality data collected by the State Department of Water Resources.  This same conclusion was drawn by an independent water quality modeling (W2 model) performed by Jones and Stokes.  The modeling results suggested that Lake Almanor surface temperature may increase by less that 0.5 º C with the implementation of the thermal device at Prattville Intake; however, this small temperature change is well within the natural variation under existing conditions.  

·        Have you reviewed the recommendations provided by the retired CDFG employee (Dakota)?

Response:  Yes.  Ron Decoto’s June 14, 2003 recommendation letter is being reviewed.

·        What are the suspected historic water temperatures without any of the facilities?

Response:  No record exists on what the historic river water temperatures were without any of the facilities; however, it is suspected that river water temperatures were slightly cooler from what exist today.

·        This decision is driven by Rock Creek-Cresta agreements.  Can those be renegotiated to relieve PG&E from this requirement?

Response:  The Rock Creek –Cresta Relicensing Settlement Agreement (September 2000) is one of the regulatory drivers that require the evaluation of a Prattville Intake water temperature control measure.  The determination to ultimately build a Prattville Intake water temperature control structure is currently being discussed with the resource agencies and interested parties.  Yes, the Rock Creek-Cresta Relicensing Settlement Agreement (September 2000) has provisions for amending its terms.  Changes to the Rock Creek-Cresta Relicensing Settlement Agreement could also require an application for amendment of the Rock Creek-Cresta FERC license.

·        Clarify the logic behind the term ‘reasonableness’ when considering the impacts of these alternatives VS the benefits.

Response:  The term “reasonable” is contained within the water temperature section of the Rock Creek-Cresta Relicensing Settlement Agreement (September 2000) and in the new FERC license issued for the Rock Creek-Cresta Project in 2001.  Yes, it is PG&E’s belief that all resource agencies and interested parties participating in the evaluation of water temperature control measures will consider the benefits, costs and impacts of various alternatives in a sound, reasonable manner.

·        Environmental impact modeling just scratches the surface: issues include multi-year drought scenarios, thermocline shift impacts, algae blooms triggered by temperature changes, cost, including litigation brought by property owners to mitigate for lost aesthetics and property values.

Response:  Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        Will there be an EIR prepared for this project?

Response:  Yes, both the FERC and the SWRCB have indicated that an EIR/EIS will be prepared for this project.

·        How does this decision affect license and provisions of signed settlement agreement?

Response:  Yes.  Any water temperature decision may require a modification or change to the FERC license or signed settlement agreement.

·        The modeling is for a fixed curtain – did you evaluate a mobile curtain to be deployed at certain times only?

Response:  Yes. A removable curtain has been evaluated.

·        Curtain may be expensive experiment.  Will you remove it if it proves to be a failure?  Will the removal be at no charge to the ratepayer?

Response:  Yes. Any water temperature device will be a very expensive cost to the ratepayers.  PG&E and the 2105 Collaborative Group are very aware of the expense and are continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of the various alternatives.  Decisions on any future installed water temperature device that does not perform as expected will be made after monitoring.

·        Monitoring to determine success?

Response:  Yes, monitoring is generally required by the resource agencies to determine the effectiveness of various resource measures.

·        How does this decision affect the license term?  Would you do it if the license term were shorter?

Response:  Yes, the decision to build a water temperature control structure at Lake Almanor may have an effect on the new license term.  The FERC issues new licenses with a license term of minimum of 30 years and up to 50 years depending on the extent of project development.

·        The community needs more timely release of information.

Response:  Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary. 

·        The hooded pipe alternative didn’t seem to get a full evaluation.

Response:  The hooded pipe alternative did get a full evaluation.  PG&E’s presentations are focusing on the curtain because it is the most effective in reducing temperature and is the least cost alternative.

·        What is the change in temperature needed to initiate algae growth?  Would a couple of degrees trigger a bloom?

Response:  The modeling study done by Jones and Stokes indicates that a curtain would only potentially increase surface waters 0.0 to 0.5 º C under some conditions.   Because the surface waters in Lake Almanor currently can vary by about 7 º C between years, a change of only 0.0 to 0.5 º C is not expected to result in any measurable increase in algae levels in the lake.

·        West side of the Lake has areas with marginal temperatures in the summer currently.  This project could change the temperatures in these areas, crowding the fish into a smaller area.  This could have impacts that don’t seem to have been considered.  This project could require reconsideration of the fish planting numbers.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        East side fish structure in the Lake could be lost.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        What are the effects of the powerhouses on water temperature?

Response:  The downstream powerhouses internal mechanical/electrical systems have no measurable effects on the river water temperature.  Water temperature increases from its travel through the tunnels and penstocks are also negligible as revealed by field data.  A small amount of river water is used for cooling the bearings of the turbine/generator.

·        What’s in it for us?

Response: The public may benefit from the possible improvement of the downstream river reaches to support a colder water aquatic system.

·        Agreements are potentially affected by this proposal?

Response:  Yes, agreements will need to be developed.

·        How are the economics considered and water quality agreements compromised by this issue?

Response:  Economics will be fully considered in an EIR/EIS before any decision is made.

·        Water quality testing may be needed more frequently.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        What does ‘reasonable’ mean?  Does SWRCB need to prove ‘reasonable’?

Response:  The term “reasonable” is not defined in the Rock Creek-Cresta Relicensing Settlement Agreement (September 2000) or the new FERC license for the Rock Creek-Cresta Project issued in 2001.  Webster’s defines “reasonable” as follows: agreeable to reason; not extreme or excessive; moderate, fair; inexpensive; having the facility to reason; rational; possessing sound judgment.  The SWRCB will need to provide the justification for any decision.

·        What is the timeline – when do you need to make a decision?

Response:  The 2105 Collaborative Group is working to make a water temperature decision by October 2004.

·        Native fish introductions are requiring the cold water?

Response:  The purpose of selectively removing the deeper, cold water from Lake Almanor is to benefit the native cold water fishery ( i.e., rainbow trout) in the downstream river reaches.  Although the downstream river reaches in the Rock Creek and Cresta reaches have been planted with fish in the past (fish planting is still occurring in the Belden reach), none are currently planted in these two river reaches.

·        Yellow Creek Powerhouse reduced fishery below Caribou.  Were studies done at that time (that supported the decision) and how can you be sure of what this action will do?

Response: The Belden Powerhouse (Yellow Creek Powerhouse) and Belden Dam were built and commissioned in 1969.  In the mid-1960’s joint aquatic studies were conducted by PG&E, the California Department of Fish and Game, US Department of Interior and the US Forest Service.  Based on the results of those studies, PG&E and the agencies were able to agree upon specific conditions, which were reviewed and approved by the FERC.  The addition of a temperature control device will also require review by the appropriate resource agencies and approval by the FERC.

·        Studies at existing curtain structures?  Have there been studies of economic and fishery impacts or benefits at those sites?

Response:  No economic studies have been conducted at this time.  Both in-lake and modeling studies have been conducted to look at impacts to the fishery at, or near the proposed curtain location.  The modeling studies indicate that entrainment of pond smelt to Butt Valley Reservoir may be severely decreased in June through September in most years.

·        Any benefits for Lake Almanor?

Response: At this time, there are no expected benefits for Lake Almanor resulting from a cold water structure.

·        Economic impacts to boat operators and repair shops if fishing declines?

Response:  Economic impacts will be considered before any decision is made.

·        Eliminated options because they were too expensive – seems to ignore the impacts to Lake Almanor community.  May work technically but it should not be considered feasible.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        Is diversion capped?  What is that figure?  Are you currently operating at maximum capacity?

Response:  The current maximum water diversion capacity at Prattville Intake is about 2118 cubic feet per second.  Yes, PG&E operates at maximum capacity when necessary.

·        Have you done Secchi disk water clarity studies and modeled changes with temperature changes?

Response:  Secchi disk measurements have been and are continually measured both by the State Department of Water Resources and PG&E.  The data ranged from 15 to 25 feet depending on the sediment loading, water year type and season of the year.

·        Water quality of the Lake should be as important as the water quality downstream.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        How do we know that 20º C. will work?  Seems like a lot of money to spend for a risky target.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        CDFG – fish ladder proposal had similar promises of success and that didn’t work.  This is too risky for the Lake.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        Difference of temperature input VS output from powerhouses?  Doesn’t it warm 2-3º as it passes through the turbines?

Response:  No. There is no measurable warming of water as it passes through the powerhouse mechanical system.  Warming of the reservoir and river water is from atmospheric condition via air/water interface.

·        This is about creating ideal conditions in the river that may or may not have existed in the past.  The community needs to get organized and get behind blocking this experiment.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        Relicensing brought this on us?

Response:  Yes, the relicensing of the power facilities at PG&E’s three projects (Upper North Fork Feather River, Rock Creek-Cresta and Poe) is the principle reason for the evaluation of water temperature improvements on the Feather River.

·        These are impacts on a broad community of stakeholders.  How are you (PG&E) interacting with those people to hear the other side of the argument?

Response:  PG&E is continuing to participate in the 2105 Collaborative Group whose members are the State and Federal resource agencies, Plumas County and interested parties.  Also, Plumas County and PG&E are conducting public meetings to receive public input.

·        How is the media covering both sides of the issue?

Response:  Yes. The media has available to it information on the 2105 Group website (www.project2105.org).

·        What is required to counter those that favor this proposal?

Response:  All stakeholders need to work together to evaluate the proposals using the best available technical information.

·        Will the web site be updated with this information?

Response:  The 2105 Group website (www.project2105.org) is regularly updated and contains information on water temperature.

·        Have you ever ice-fished on this lake?  Will withdrawal of cold water affect the ice forming in winter?

Response:  The proposed withdrawal of cold water from Lake Almanor will not affect the ice forming in the winter.

·        Cost of a degraded lake to the local businesses?

Response:  The affects of any water temperature control device in Lake Almanor will be carefully considered before any decision is made.

·        Algae growth on rainbow trout – is this a product of temperature conditions in the lake and will this worsen with the project?  Have you studied this?

Response:  Because the proposed water temperature curtain is only expected to potentially increase surface water temperatures by 0.0 to 0.5 º C in some years, well within the historical range of about 7.0 º C, no measurable changes to the algae levels are expected; and subsequently no effects on trout are expected either.

·        Will aquatic weeds return with the curtain placement and impact multi-use recreation currently enjoyed at the lake?

Response:  Because the proposed curtain is only expected to potentially increase surface water temperatures by 0.0 to 0.5 º C in some years, well within the historical range of about 7.0 º C, no measurable changes to the aquatic weeds are expected.

·        Have lawsuits been filed to force this action? By fishing organizations?

Response:  No lawsuits have been filed to force this action.

·        Can SWRCB require this?

Response:  Yes, the California State Water Resources Control Board can require reasonable water temperature control measures.

·        If PG&E decommissioned the powerhouses, would the water cool down?  Who would be the target to pay for lowering temperatures then?

Response: PG&E does not intend to decommission the powerhouses and associated dams (including Lake Almanor).

·        What was the ditch created for? Seems close to Goose Island – will that be affected by temperature changes?

Response:  The underwater ditch (channel) that extends eastward from the existing Prattville Intake was constructed in the early 1900’s.  The purpose of the underwater channel was to provide a route to draw water from the eastern lobe of Lake Almanor to the Prattville Intake.  Goose Island is near the channel and will not be affected by any water temperature change.

·        Where were the other meetings and who attended?

Response:  Yes.  There have been a series of recent meetings in Chico by the 2105 Collaborative Group to discuss water temperature.  Attending those meetings were PG&E, resource agencies, Plumas County, and interested individuals.

·        Will all alternatives be detailed and discussed at the collaborative meetings before a decision is made?  When are the future meetings?

Response:  Yes.  Future 2105 Collaborative Group meetings are scheduled as necessary.  The next meeting is August 2nd  in Chico.

·        Comparing Whiskeytown to Almanor – how do you consider economic development at Almanor?

Response:  The thermal curtains installed at Whiskeytown and Lewiston in 1993 have proven to be effective in reducing release water temperatures.  The economic development at Lake Almanor is important and any impact on it will be considered in any decision.

·        How will you be able to impact the Butt Valley trout fishery - will CDFG permit that?

Response:  Impacts to the Butt Valley reservoir fishery are being evaluated and discussed by the 2105 Collaborative Group, which includes the California Department of Fish and Game.

·        Provide information through Bill Dennison’s newspaper column in a timely manner.

Response: Participant statement/opinion.  No response necessary.

·        Do the fishermen downstream know the effects they are going to have on the fishermen upstream at the Lake?

Response:  Various fishing organizations are participating and providing input in the discussion of water temperature.  Those organizations are the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Trout, Anglers Committee and the Lake Almanor Fishing Association.  As the water temperature discussions proceed, it is expected that all anglers groups will become more informed on the effects of various water temperature alternatives.

·        Do we direct questions regarding ‘reasonableness’ to the SWRCB?

Response:  Yes.  In addition to the SWRCB, all members of the 2105 Collaborative Group are interested in public input regarding ‘reasonableness” determinations.

·        Details of the construction effort including timing and level of lake during construction and dredging, placement of the curtain and drawdown.

Response:  In 2003 PG&E contracted with the engineering firm of Black & Veatch to prepare preliminary engineering, cost estimates and construction plans for various water temperature structure alternatives. This work is complete and it includes information on timing, lake level and construction methods.

·        Why can’t you place a refrigeration unit on the pipeline to the powerhouse and leave the Lake alone?  Has this been studied?

Response:  It is not feasible to attempt to mechanically cool the very large volumes of water passing through the Prattville Tunnel/penstock.  PG&E is not aware of any feasible method to mechanically cool the tunnel/penstock water.

·        How will the ice impact the curtain?

Response:  Ice will not impact the curtain alternative, as it will be designed to withstand natural conditions including wind, waves, and icing.

·        What started the SWRCB on this idea?

Response:  The relicensing of the power facilities at three projects (Upper North Fork Feather River, Rock Creek-Cresta and Poe) is the principle reason for the evaluation of water temperature improvements on the Feather River and the participation of resource agencies including the SWRCB.

·       How can SWRCB support the dredging and placement of all that material?  Seems contradictory.

Response:  Any dredging and placement of dredged material would require permits from the SWRCB, US Army Corp of Engineers, California Department of Fish and Game and others.  Those permits would contain terms and conditions that would address the concerns of those permitting agencies.


Additional Questions from Bill Dennison’s June 21, 2004 memo and PG&E’s Reply Responses



·        Although everyone, including Plumas County eventually signed the Rock Creek/Cresta Negotiated Settlement, who on this collaborative were the dominating influence to include 20 degrees Celsius as a temperature goal? Did they know that separate 1991, 1996 and 1999 studies by PG&E and California Dept. of Fish and Game indicated that fishery enhancement measures would provide a better fishery than attempting to lower the water temperature?

Response: The California State Water Resources Control Board was the dominating influence for the 20 degree Celsius temperature goal for the Rock Creek-Cresta Project.  Yes, all parties to the Rock Creek-Cresta Relicensing Settlement (September 2000) were aware of several studies/reports suggesting potential fishery enhancement measures.  The jointly prepared Rational Report for the Rock Creek-Cresta Relicensing Settlement Agreement (November 29, 2000) provides the written rational including cited literature for the Settlement Agreement.


·        Has the 2105 LG been provided all of the studies that have been conducted by PG&E and DF&G?  If not, how can they be reviewed?

Response: Yes, it is PG&E’s belief that all of the studies and study results have been provided to the members of the 2105 LG, the Rock Creek-Cresta Ecological Resources Committee (ERC) and the Poe Relicensing Group.


·        Can we identify if there are specific governmental, or NGO groups that have consulted, or otherwise politically influenced State and /or Federal agencies to promote the temperature reduction plan in spite of the scientific studies that have contradicted the need?

Response: PG&E understands that the 2105 Collaborative Group is made up of many different agencies, groups and individuals.  Each member of the 2105 Collaborative Group may have different interests however, as defined in the agreed to UNFFR Relicensing Protocals, “all participant will seek to reach a settlement agreement, supported by sound scientific data, which resolves all relevant resource issues in support of FERC’s issuing a new license for the UNFFR Project”.  PG&E continues to believe that all members are participating in good faith and are using sound scientific data.


·        What is the status of “Prattville Intake Temperature Curtain EIS” for the Lake Alamnor and Butt Reservoir ecosystem?

Response: Both the FERC and SWRCB have indicated that they will be preparing an EIR/EIS for this project.  At this time, the Prattville Intake Temperature Curtain alternative is still being evaluated and no decisions have been made.


·        Earlier studies indicated that the impact of high flow “scouring” of German Brown spawning areas was detrimental.  What is the impact of these flows on Rainbow trout?

Response: Yes, high “scouring” flows can impact trout and other aquatic habitat.  All parties to the recently signed UNFFR Relciensing Settlement Agreement (April 2004) gave careful consideration to the timing, duration and amount of flows in relation to trout and other aquatic habitat.


·        Have studies been completed that show the impacts on historical water temperatures on the Rock Creek/Cresta Reach?  Similarly, what is available for “scouring” impacts of past years?

Response: The majority of resource studies completed for the relicensing are focused on evaluating the existing environment and determining the potential for protection, mitigation and enhancement measures.  The jointly prepared Rational Report for the Rock Creek-Cresta Relicensing Settlement Agreement (November 29, 2000) provides a written description of the historical perspective including cited literature.  Water temperature impacts are addressed in the Water Quality and Temperature Management Section.  “Scouring” impacts are addressed in the Channel Maintenance and Sediment Management (Geomorphology) Section.


·        The dam installations have reduced both the frequency and magnitude of the scouring impact.  Has there been a cost/benefit analysis between those facts and the benefits from the dams and powerhouses?

Response:  The FERC will evaluate the cost/benefit as a part of their relicensing decisions.


·        Has consideration been given to the negative, political impact due to the belief that information is being withheld, because meetings are not scheduled regularly in the Lake Almanor basin?

Response: Yes. The 2105 Collaborative Group has discussed and given consideration to the need to keep the public better informed on the relicensing.


·        Why are studies, such as the one received last week, not provided in a more-timely manner?  The study contained no date.  When was it completed?

Response: All relicensing study plan proposals, study and study results are being completed as fast as practical.  The Prattville Intake Modification and Potential Impacts to Lake Almanor Fishery Study - Interim Report, distributed last week, could not have been done any earlier because it uses water temperature data modeled from other recently completed analysis.  PG&E received the Interim Report from the consultant in May 2004.