A Canadian company has proposed to build a new hydroelectric facility at Daguerre Point Dam on the South Yuba River in California. Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had determined that continued operation of the dam will jeopardize endangered fish species on the Yuba River.
A Biological Opinion (BiOp) recently produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has determined that continued operation of Englebright dam and Daguerre Point dams on the lower Yuba River in California will jeopardize endangered fish species on the Yuba River.
The Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead and the Southern distinct population segment of North American green sturgeon have all be affected by the dams.
Hydropower represents approximately 20% of the world’s energy supply, is viewed as both vulnerable to global climate warming and an asset to reduce climate altering emissions, and is increasingly the target of improved regulation to meet multiple ecosystem service benefits. It is within this context that the recent decision by the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject studies of climate change in its consideration of reoperation of the Yuba-Bear Drum-Spaulding hydroelectric facilities in northern California is shown to be poorly reasoned and risky. Given the rapidity of climate warming, and its anticipated impacts to natural and human communities, future long-term fixed licenses of hydropower operation will be ill prepared to adapt if science-based approaches to incorporating reasonable and foreseeable hydrologic changes into study plans are not included. The licensing of hydroelectricity generation can no longer be issued in isolation due to downstream contingencies such as domestic water use, irrigated agricultural production, ecosystem maintenance, and general socioeconomic well-being. At minimum, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is to establish conditions of operation for 30-50 years, licensees should be required to anticipate changing climatic and hydrologic conditions for a similar period of time.
Available online at http://watershed.ucdavis.edu/pdf/Viers_JAWRA_2011.pdf
In a move that has disappointed many, FERC has rejected a request to predict and evaluate the changes in project effects that will occur as a result of climate change that is likely to impact the local patterns of precipitation, runoff, evapo-transpiration and other meteorological patterns in two watershed in California.