South Fork Powerhouse Project
Environmental leadership is one of our guiding principles at SMUD. We encourage more efficient use of energy, and we use a balanced and sustainable mix of energy sources which helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gases produced locally.
As part of our efforts to continue providing clean, reliable energy, SMUD is building a 2.7 megawatt powerhouse and a boating flow release facility. The new South Fork Powerhouse (formerly called the New Slab Creek Powerhouse) will be located about one-quarter mile downstream of Slab Creek Reservoir on the South Fork of the American River, roughly 3 miles north of the town of Camino in El Dorado County.
Electricity from the powerhouse will be delivered into the regional electrical grid via an existing PG&E distribution line that currently serves the communities of Mosquito and Swansboro. The 2014 license that authorizes SMUD to continue operating the Upper American River Project (UARP) requires a release of additional water from Slab Creek Reservoir to enhance fish habitat and support whitewater boating. The water release required by the new license will be passed through the new powerhouse to generate ‘green energy,' helping us reach California's goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.
SMUD has completed design of the new powerhouse and obtained all required permits and authorizations for construction and operation of the new facilities. Pre-construction environmental studies are complete. On-going environmental compliance work will be performed during construction to assure full compliance with our environmental requirements and related permits.
We started the public review process in October 2011. The same year, the U.S. Department of Energy also announced that SMUD was selected for a $1.5 grant for construction of the $14 million South Fork Powerhouse & Boating Flow Release Facility.
Upper American River Project road activity and work log
SMUD is performing maintenance on the White Rock tunnel over the next few months. In order to meet downstream flow requirements for both the Upper American River Project and the Chili Bar Project, SMUD must spill Slab Creek Reservoir. During this time the level of the SF American River will fluctuate unpredictably. Based on these conditions, coupled with the ongoing heavy construction activities at the South Fork Powerhouse, recreation access via Slab Creek Dam road is excluded.
Project timelineProject construction began in early 2017 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.
Enhancing local recreationUnder the new UARP license, SMUD is working to improve existing recreation facilities and add a few new ones near most of the 11 SMUD-operated reservoirs. This includes improvements to existing campgrounds, hiking trails and roads, expansion of RV camping and the extension of bike trails. Elements of the South Fork Powerhouse Project that will enhance recreation either directly through facility improvements or indirectly by improving fish habitat include:
- Improved road access for recreational use in vicinity of Slab Creek Dam
- Creation of a boater put-in directly below the dam
- New parking area for boaters using the put-in
- Improved trout habitat downstream of Slab Creek Dam
- Augmentation of trout spawning gravel in the South Fork of the American River
- Enhancement of Class IV / V whitewater boating through controlled releases from a newly constructed boating flow facility
Working with the communitySMUD is a long-standing member of the El Dorado County community. We're committed to working closely with stakeholders and residents to minimize any impacts from the South Fork Project. We continue to work with our partners on fire prevention and community enhancement projects that will benefit the region. We'll continue to distribute information and keep the community informed.
- Public Notice about the Final Non-capacity License Amendment Application (FNLAA) submitted by SMUD for the South Fork Powerhouse Project.
- Final Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration
- Notice of Intent
- Final Non-Capacity License Amendment Application
- Cover letter
- Appendix A: Photos
- Appendix B: Comment letters
- Appendix C: Comment matrix
- Appendix D: Design drawings
- Appendix E: Technical reports
- Benthic macroinvertebrate surveys
- Cross-sectional profiles within reach
- Draft bat study plan
- Ecology of Didymo Geminata
- Fisheries surveys
- Foothill Yellow-legged Frog and Western Pond Turtle surveys
- Delineation of jurisdictional waters and wetlands
- Lower Slab Creek geomorphology
- Photos of reach at various flows (Part A)
- Photos of reach at various flows (Part B)
- Riparian vegetation mapping
- Tabular and graphical representations of wetted perimeter
- Terrestrial resource evaluation
- Water temperature assessment