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Here's a Wake Up Call the Valley Should Heed!

Relicensing is the latest trick in their bag of tricks.

Jan 02, 2013

As we enter the new year, it is a good time to take a look at where we stand in the water wars. In 2009 we were in the midst of several years of drought and there was some urgency to solve California's water problems. A water bond and corresponding legislation were in the works, and the legislature did pass the laws, but the bond needed for funding was shuffled down the road as the rains came down. With good rain and snow totals in 2010 and 2011 and now a good start this year the water wars are mostly going on unseen beneath the surface. But, make no mistake, the war is on.

That's the way environmentalists like it. Their war never stops. And they're really good when no one's paying attention, like now. They fight while we sleep. Well, not all of us are sleeping.

There are stories in the news, stories about dam relicensing. No one pays attention. Seems like bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. You have to look inside the stories for key phrases and sentences. The environmentalists are in there, trying to change the rules, changing who gets the water. Relicensing is the latest trick in their bag of tricks.

Last week in an article titled 'La Grange Dam Needs Relicensing' in the Union Democrat it said "according to an order released last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) found that the La Grange Dam must be licensed by the agency...The federal agency requires a complete environmental review of the dam and its operations, which can lead to changes in flow requirements and other new regulations."

Changes in flow requirements? Who would be happy about this? Keep reading: "The Tuolumne River Trust, a Bay Area environmental group that focuses on improving the health of the beleaguered lower section of the river, applauded the decision last week. In a written statement, the organization stated the decision could lead to changes in water flow on the Tuolumne that improve recreation and help strengthen salmon runs on the river."

The article also mentioned "the larger Don Pedro Dam is now in the midst of the multi-year process of renewing an existing FERC license, with costs expected to reach $25 million." Don Pedro is 2-miles upstream from La Grange.

River Restoration was one tactic in the war on water that redistributed water from farms to others. Relicensing is the latest tactic and could be coming to a dam near you.

On the Klamath River the debate about dam removal continues through the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and the Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement (KHSA). But, on the website of the Resighini Rancheria, a tribe fighting for dam removal, they say "the most promising avenue for dam removal is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing process." In other words, the bureaucracy can trump federal law. In the words of Nancy Pelosi, "we have to pass it to see what's in it." Now we're seeing what's in FERC relicensing law.

Friends of the River's website gives some details of environmental plans for relicensing rivers in California.



 

 

La Grange Dam Needs Relicensing

Written by Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

A dam on the Tuolumne River might have to go through an often time-consuming and costly relicensing process in the wake of an order from a federal agency.

According to an order released last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that the La Grange Dam must be licensed by the agency. The oldest dam on the Tuolumne River, the La Grange Dam has been in place since 1883.

The dam was first built to divert flows from the river for the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts’ canals. In the 1920s, the districts that operated the dam installed a hydropower plant, according to the FERC report. The dam also regulates the flows coming out of Don Pedro Reservoir.

“The La Grange hydroelectric project is required to be licensed,” the report reads.

The FERC licensing process can be lengthy and expensive. The federal agency requires a complete environmental review of the dam and its operations, which can lead to changes in flow requirements and other new regulations.

The larger Don Pedro Dam is now in the midst of the multi-year process of renewing an existing FERC license, with costs expected to reach $25 million.

Michelle Reimers, a spokeswoman for the Turlock Irrigation District, said on Friday that a meeting was scheduled yesterday where district officials would discuss how this order could affect TID.

Melissa Williams, spokeswoman for MID, said in an e-mail that the order was in response to a request from the National Marine Fisheries Services and does not necessarily start the relicensing process yet.

“We are currently reviewing the (order) … and evaluating its findings,” Williams said.

The dam, located about two miles downstream of Don Pedro, is more than 130 feet tall and about 300 feet wide, according to FERC.

The Tuolumne River Trust, a Bay Area environmental group that focuses on improving the health of the beleaguered lower section of the river, applauded the decision last week. In a written statement, the organization stated the decision could lead to changes in water flow on the Tuolumne that improve recreation and help strengthen salmon runs on the river.

“While we support a healthy ag-based economy, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of a healthy Tuolumne River,” Patrick Koepele, deputy executive director of the organization, stated earlier this month. “We are eager and committed to finding workable solutions that allow for both.”

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