Every 50 years we need to relicense the Don Pedro Project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
It’s an open, collaborative process involving water districts, cities, residents, tribes, as well as federal, and state agencies. We took input from all these parties to conduct Tuolumne River-specific science and put together a comprehensive plan – the Tuolumne River Management Plan. Unfortunately, some resource agencies have ignored science and put forth their own plans that would devastate our economy and threaten our water supply without doing enough to help our native salmon and O. Mykiss fish populations.
We can protect the Valley’s water supply while protecting our environment and fish populations. The science done by real scientists on the Tuolumne River proves that.
A Year of Progress
Bureau of Land Management
Through the FERC process, BLM originally recommended a whitewater takeout facility at Wards Ferry that would cost more than $50 million. After meeting with BLM to discuss the Don Pedro Project and our river operations, BLM amended their plan to still meet recreational needs, but at a revised cost of approximately $12 million.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife initially recommended increased river flows that were more than 200 percent higher than what we proposed. We engaged in regular meetings with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to dive deep into our Tuolumne River-specific science and the work we proposed to do in the Tuolumne River Management Plan. Ultimately, U.S. Fish and Wildlife revised their recommendation to FERC to align more closely to what was included in the Tuolumne River Management Plan.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
We’ve reached a major milestone in the relicensing process as FERC issued its long-awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement – known as the DEIS – on Monday, February 11, 2019. The DEIS indicates what FERC plans to include in the Don Pedro Project’s new license.
Key takeaways from FERC’s DEIS
FERC agreed with the majority of MID and TID’s proposed river flow schedule and rejected the increased river flow schedules recommended by California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Services and the State Water Control Resources Control Board. FERC also rejected the idea of a fish passage and didn’t provide any reservoir level restrictions. Unlike other resource agencies in this process, the DEIS balanced measures with economic impacts to our region.
The DEIS recognized that the final river flow schedule is dependent upon the State Water Board’s 401 certification. This emphasizes the importance and need to finalize the Tuolumne River voluntary agreement and get it adopted by the State Water Board. The voluntary agreement will become the terms and conditions in our new FERC license.