NEWS WORTH NOTING: North Coast entities to sign Potter Valley Project planning agreement; Survey: CA voters strongly favor restoration of Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley; North Monterey County Drought Contingency Plan completed
North Coast Entities to Sign Potter Valley Project Planning Agreement
The Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water), Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission, and California Trout, Inc. are working towards adopting a Potter Valley Project (Project) planning agreement to secure the region’s water supply and protect endangered salmon species in the Eel River and upper Russian River. Driven by an ad hoc process facilitated by Congressman Jared Huffman, the planning agreement will provide a structure to fund and develop a collaborative two basin proposal for the future of the Project to support water resources and fisheries restoration in both watersheds.
The Project is a hydroelectric facility that results in an inter-basin water transfer delivering water from the Eel River basin to the headwaters of the Russian River. The Project is owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company which announced in January 2019 that it would not seek a new hydroelectric license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Project. FERC has set a July 1, 2019 deadline for any interested parties to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Preliminary Application Document (PAD) to pursue a new license. The planning agreement will allow this regional coalition to meet FERC’s short timeline. The main facilities are two dams on the Eel River, a diversion tunnel and hydroelectric plant. The Project generates up to 9.4 megawatts of power.
Since 2018, Congressman Huffman has embarked on a two-basin solution effort that included the development of an ad hoc committee made up of local and regional stakeholders. These entities have been meeting to discuss and review the role of PG&E in the relicensing process of the Project.
“I am glad to see this partnership pursue a two-basin solution to protect the region’s water supply and precious fisheries resources,” said Rep. Jared Huffman. “This is the type of multi-stakeholder collaboration that I have been advocating for through the ad hoc process we created in 2017. The planning agreement is a framework to develop a 21st-Century project that respects the needs of the diverse stakeholders who live in northwestern California.”
Sonoma County Supervisor and Sonoma Water Director James Gore said, “A true partnership like this only comes through acknowledging the diversity of needs on the landscape. Here we endeavor to do right by our human built environment and our fisheries. I’m excited about what we can achieve together. This is a great start.”
California Trout Executive Director Curtis Knight said, “The process will build on significant work completed to date by members of the Ad Hoc Committee regarding fish passage above Scott Dam and water supply for both Eel and Russian River basins.”
Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission Chair Janet K.F. Pauli said, “”I am very pleased that the Sonoma Water Board of Directors has approved the Potter Valley Project, Feasibility Study, and Planning Agreement. Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission’s goal in this process has been to preserve our precious water resource for all purposes in Mendocino County while also recognizing the many other stakeholders who depend upon water from the Russian and Eel Rivers. The five member agencies of MCIWPC will meet Friday for their final discussion and approval of this unique partnership. We look forward to further collaboration between regional partners who can join with us in the common goal of attaining a true “two basin solution” by maintaining local control of our shared water supply and restoration of healthy riverine ecosystems.”
The planning agreement will allow the entities to prepare a Feasibility Study of a potential licensing proposal for the Project that will materially benefit both basins by advancing the following Shared Objectives:
Water supply reliability that will meet the needs of consumptive water users in both basins;
Restoration of viable, anadromous fisheries in both river basins, including the potential for volitional fish passage into the Eel River Basin upstream of Scott Dam.
Reliance on best available science and engineering analyses as the basis for evaluating options for restoration, water delivery, and hydroelectric generation pursuant to a new license;
Collaboration on funding;
Active participation of tribes and other stakeholders who are willing to support the other Shared Objectives;
Economic welfare of both basins;
Continued hydroelectric generation; and
Protecting tribal cultural, economic, and other interests in both the Eel and Russian River basins.
The initial partner entities will each contribute $100,000 toward funding the Feasibility Study. Recognizing that these efforts could be enhanced by increasing the number and diversity of stakeholders participating in the licensing process, the planning agreement includes the ability to add additional parties who are willing to work toward solutions to meet these Shared Objectives.
By July 1, 2019, the partners to the planning agreement will file a package with FERC that will include:
The Planning Agreement;
Notice of Intent that will be conditioned upon the completion of the Feasibility Study, including the creation of a Regional Entity, which will be the license applicant;
(Pre-Application Document incorporating applicable portions of PG&E’s Pre-Application Document (dated April 2017) and adding appropriate supplementary materials; and
Proposed schedule for completing the pre-filing phases of the licensing proceeding, and a proposed deadline.
By April 14, 2020, the Feasibility Study will evaluate options and make recommendations for a preferred option to satisfy the following elements:
Regional Entity that will apply for a new license and propose to assume the new license if issued. The parties will evaluate various potential structures for the new entity.
Project Plan, showing capital modifications as well as operations and maintenance requirements, for the delivery of water and hydroelectric power to advance the Shared Objectives;
Fisheries Restoration Plan, showing measures the Regional Entity will implement to advance the Shared Objectives;
Application Study Plan, showing those further studies necessary to develop a new license application, including associated consultation procedures and schedule; and
Financial Plan, including the specific sources of initial funding and subsequent revenues
California Voters Strongly Favor Restoration of Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, according to Statewide Survey
Majority support for restoration changes little across party lines, gender, age group and key California cities/regions, with young adults most in favor of restoration, according to a Probolsky Research survey commissioned by Restore Hetch Hetchy.
From Restore Hetch Hetchy:
The vast majority of California voters want Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to be restored, according to a recent survey conducted among likely California voters by Probolsky Research. The survey results further reveal that majority support for restoration is solid across gender, age and key California regions. Young adults favor restoration by a factor of 5 to 1. Support in California is also solidly nonpartisan with the majority of Republicans, Democrats and independent voters favoring restoration.
Probolsky surveyed California likely voters, asking the question:
Should Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley be restored, if it can be accomplished without impacting San Francisco’s water supply?
61.5% answered yes
20.2% answered no
18.4% were uncertain or did not answer
“This survey confirms what we have known all along – Californians overwhelmingly support restoration of Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley, and that support is broad-based,” said Restore Hetch Hetchy Executive Director Spreck Rosekrans. “Even in the Bay Area, where San Francisco is one of the primary water wholesalers, those supporting restoration outnumbered those opposed by more than 2 to 1. And, the robust support among young people further bolsters our resolve to ensure that this stunning national treasure is returned to the American people for generations to come.”
California’s Yosemite National Park once included two spectacular glacier-carved valleys – Yosemite Valley along the Merced River and Hetch Hetchy Valley along the Tuolumne River. In 1913, Congress allowed San Francisco to dam Hetch Hetchy Valley and turn it into a reservoir for the City – the only such destruction ever allowed in any of America’s national parks. Restore Hetch Hetchy asked Probolsky Research to evaluate support among Californians for the organization’s mission: to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor ─ while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River.
Key Survey Highlights:
Restoration supporters outnumbered those opposed by more than 3 to 1, 62% to 20%.
More women than men support restoration, 63% to 59%
More Democrats than Republicans support restoration 66% to 52%, with 60% of independent voters in favor.
Support is highest among those 18 – 29 at 77%.
Support is lowest among those 55 – 64 at 50%, but rises to 55% for those over 65.
Likely voters in LA County and the Central Valley are the most supportive at 63%.
57% of Bay Area voters support restoration – the lowest of the five major regions surveyed.
The survey was conducted by Probolsky Research online and by telephone among a random sampling of nearly 1,000 California voters that matched the demographics of likely California voters. The full report is available here. A summary of key findings is available here.
ABOUT RESTORE HETCH HETCHY: The mission of Restore Hetch Hetchy is to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River.
North Monterey County Drought Contingency Plan Completed
Comprehensive Document Provides Action Plan to Mitigate Effects of Potential Drought
Total Water Management, a partnership between the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD), is pleased to announce the completion of its North Monterey County Drought Contingency Plan. The comprehensive document, developed with the input of numerous public and private stakeholders in northern Monterey County, identifies multiple drought mitigation projects and initiatives that provide a framework to combat the issues of a future drought.
“As the previous drought made clear, the Western United States was ill-prepared to deal with the effects of a multi-year drought,” commented David Stoldt, General Manager of the MPWMD. “This plan has identified a number of high-quality water supply projects that our region can consider in order to properly address the needs of the public, business community and the environment during the next drought.”
The findings from the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) will be incorporated into a larger Salinas and Carmel Rivers Basin Study which utilizes computer modeling to provide a detailed analysis of climate change and socio-economic scenarios impacts on existing and future water supplies through the year 2100. The USBR and MPWMD brought together local and state partners tasked with the management of the Salinas and Carmel River Basins in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties to explore these scenarios and their effects on hydroelectric power facilities, fish and wildlife habitats, water based recreation facilities, water quality/salinity monitoring and flood control management.
“From a regional cooperative standpoint, the DCP and the larger Basin Management Study are critical components to reach the evolving goal of total water management in the Western United States,” added Stoldt. “Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties are truly unique in their environmental, geographical and socio-economic configurations and it’s commendable that this divergent group of stakeholders are able to collaborate on such a comprehensive document.”
For more information on the completed North Monterey Drought Contingency Plan and the ongoing Salinas and Carmel River Basin Study project visit: www.totalwatermanagement.org
About Total Water Management: Total Water Management is a collaborative group of public and private stakeholders from Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties. Funded un part by the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, the group is committed to providing information and actionable plans to mitigate the potential effects of drought and climate change with the goal of building long-term resiliency to water supply shortages.
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.