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SYRCL Advocates for Information on the Effects of Hydro-Power on the Yuba River

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SYRCL and a coalition of conservation groups recently filed a document with the federal government commenting on the completeness of studies conducted by the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) to show the effects of their hydropower facilities on the river and other environmental resources. YCWA is required to conduct such studies as a step toward obtaining a new license for operating their facilities on the Yuba River.  The requirement is intended to produce information complete for developing new license terms, including mitigation and enhancement measures.  Without the review and oversight provided by SYRCL’s River Scientist and conservation allies, however, such studies can be incomplete and thereby limit the beneficial outcomes of the new license conditions.  YCWA’s new license is due in 2016 and will last for 30 years, but there is less than one year remaining in the study phase of the relicensing process.

The comments were filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by the Foothills Water Network, of which SYRCL is a leading member.  The comments address 28 specific studies and thousands of pages of technical reports. The comments include requests to modify certain studies to generate more complete information.  For example, YCWA has thus far not looked at how fish may be pulled into the powerhouse at the base of Englebright Dam, or the way in which altered spring flows have changed the riparian forest downstream.  The comments also include two requests for new studies, including the effect of the powerhouses on the bioaccumulation of mercury downstream.

YCWA’s facilities in the Yuba River watershed include New Bullards Bar Dam and Colgate Powerhouse on the North Fork Yuba River, Our House Dam and diversion on the Middle Yuba River, Log Cabin dam and diversion on Oregon Creek, and Narrows 2 at Englebright Dam on the Lower Yuba River.  To view the comments filed with FERC and learn more about restoration through hydropower project relicensing, see the Dams and Hydropower page.  SYRCL thanks our special volunteers, members, donors, and the California Hydropower Reform Coalition for supporting our work in this area.

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