The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) and a coalition of seven local and national conservation organizations filed formal comments (see below) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) critical of Archon Energy’s preliminary application to build a 3-megawatt facility adjacent to Daguerre Point Dam on the lower Yuba River.
For the past 90 days, SYRCL and members of the Foothills Water Network (FWN) conducted a thorough review of Archon’s application and assertions that the project would be “fish-friendly” and have no significant environmental impacts. FWN’s comments highlighted numerous environmental concerns with the proposed project and called for seven new studies required to evaluate the potential negative impacts on Yuba River salmon, steelhead, and other sensitive species.
“Archon’s application failed to show sufficient engineering details or scientific analysis to demonstrate that native fish would be able to safely migrate upstream and downstream past their proposed hydropower facility,” said SYRCL Science Director Gary Reedy. “No studies have been done on turbines the size that they are proposing and none have considered the impacts on Chinook salmon or steelhead trout.”
FERC also received comments on Archon’s proposed project from the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board. Those agencies presented concerns similar to those filed by FWN, and requested studies of similar scope. Based on authority within the Federal Power Act, any of these agencies can dispute a subsequent license application that does not adequately address the requested studies.
Archon’s next step would be to submit a Draft License Application to FERC that outlines how they plan to address the requests for additional studies from government agencies and the Foothills Water Network.
“Archon Energy’s proposed project conflicts with many ongoing collaborative efforts to improve the lower Yuba River fisheries,” said SYRCL Board President John Regan. “We remain concerned that FERC and Archon fail to fully understand the role of this dam, and any new facilities, in impacting populations of salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.”
In addition to SYRCL, the Foothills Water Network’s comment letter was signed by American Rivers, American Whitewater, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Gold Country Fly Fishers, Northern California Federation of Fly Fishers, the Sierra Club – Mother Lode Chapter, and Trout Unlimited.