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CSPA Comments on Draft 401 for the Oroville Relicensing


Chris Shutes, FERC Projects Director

February 17, 2010 -- CSPA filed comments today with the State Water Resources Control Board on the Draft 401 Water Quality Certification for the relicensing of the Oroville facilities, FERC P-2100. A certification by the State Board under the Clean Water Act is required before a new hydropower for license Oroville Reservoir can be the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The partial strength of the Draft 401 is that Board staff has endeavored to make proposed license articles definitive and enforceable. On the other hand, apparently at the behest of the Department of Water Resources (the project’s operator), the new Draft gives added discretion to the Board’s Deputy Director, Division of Water Rights, to decide whether some requirements, notably for water temperature and facilities modifications to achieve them, are feasible or reasonable. This simply leaves the door open to non-performance.
The new Draft 401 also continues the flaw in the previous draft of envisioning the “normal operation” of the project, without saying what that is. This would allow the Department of Water Resources to operate with no requirements to maintain a cold water pool in Oroville Reservoir, placing the fisheries of the lower Feather River and the Delta downstream at permanent risk of being sacrificed on the altar of Delta exports.
[Read the comments here]