FERC releases draft environmental impact statement for 361.9-MW Yuba River relicensing

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the U.S. has prepared a draft environmental impact statement for relicensing of the 361.9-MW Yuba River Development Project in California.

Yuba County Water Agency owns the Yuba River project (No. 2246) and filed an application for the project in April 2014. The initial FERC license for the project expired April 30, 2016.

In the draft EIS, FERC staff recommended the staff alternative, which consists of measures included in YCWA’s proposal, many of the mandatory conditions and recommendations made by state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, and some additional measures developed by the staff. The deadline to comment on the draft EIS is July 30, 2018.

The Yuba River Development Project consists of the New Colgate, New Bullards Bar Minimum Flow and Narrows 2 developments. It is located on the Yuba River, North Yuba River, Middle Yuba River and Oregon Creek in Yuba, Sierra and Nevada counties. The project occupies more than 4,400 acres of federal lands administered by the Forest Service and 16.1 acres administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The agency proposed to construct an auxiliary flood control outlet and tailwater depression system at New Bullards Bar Dam.

Primary issues associated with relicensing the projects are:

  • Erosion and sediment control
  • Restoration of floodplains in the lower Yuba River
  • Flow regimes in project-affected reaches for aquatic resources
  • Spill cessation schedules following high-flow periods to mimic natural conditions and for whitewater boating opportunities
  • Protection of plant and wildlife resources and special-status species
  • Effects on threatened and endangered species
  • Recreation enhancements
  • Protection of cultural resources

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