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Englebright Dam and YCWA’s License

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On March 7th, SYRCL and our allies in the Foothills Water Network filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting formal studies of fish passage at Englebright Dam, and several other topics crucial to the restoration of salmon and the Yuba River watershed.

In 2016, the Yuba County Water Agency’s (YCWA) license for operating hydropower facilities on the Yuba River (issued by FERC) expires.

The application process for a FERC license must include a review of the environmental impacts of its projects.  As part of this review, licensees submit a Preliminary Application Document (PAD), which, among other things, outlines the licensee’s view of its facilities’ environmental impacts, and proposes studies on those impacts.  Sadly, YCWA neglected to include many topics from study as part of their efforts to relicense, including Englebright Dam and its impacts as a complete barrier to salmon.

SYRCL, in partnership with other conservation groups, including American Rivers and Trout Unlimited, submitted comments arguing that many of these topics are critically important to considering necessary actions YCWA will have to take in order to mitigate their environmental impacts on the watershed.

First and foremost, YCWA must include Englebright Dam in its list of projects, and it must mitigate the impacts of Englebright Dam on federally protected salmon and steelhead in the river.

Englebright Dam, though owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is a useful project for YCWA’s operations on the river.  YCWA owns and operates an outlet – “Narrows #2” – at Englebright Reservoir.  This outlet relies on the hydraulic pressure generated by the dam to both re-regulate the unnaturally fluctuating flows from YCWA’s New Colgate Powerhouse upstream and to generate power.

Similar comments for studying fish passage at Englebright and the effects of the project on the full extent of anadromous fish habitat, both present and historic, were filed with FERC by the National Marine Fisheries Service (see below), which is responsible for recovering spring-run Chinook salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon.

To read the comments submitted by the Foothills Water Network, see below.

SYRCL and our allies remain committed to recovering salmon and restoring habitat throughout the Upper Yuba River watershed.

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