SMUD submitted a Final Non-capacity License Amendment Application (FNLAA) to FERC on Wednesday, August 27th for the New South Fork Powerhouse Project (Project). The application requests FERC approval of an amendment to the recently approved FERC license for the Upper American River Project (UARP). This amendment will allow SMUD to comply with the minimum and recreational flow requirements of the new license through construction of a new flow release facility while increasing overall energy production of the UARP through construction and operation of a new powerhouse with a capacity of 2.7 MW. In addition, the amendment proposes several new environmental measures including 1) returning the lowermost approx. 200 feet of Iowa Canyon Creek to a more natural grade and streambed width to allow surface flow and biological connectivity to the South Fork of the American River (SFAR) during summer/fall low flow, 2) removing some large boulders, concrete debris, and construction waste rock from a 550-foot segment in the main channel of the SFAR in order to ensure that minimum stream flow releases emanating from Slab Creek Dam will pass through of the SFAR as surface flow rather than subsurface flow, thereby providing riffle habitat for aquatic resources, and 3) enhancing trout spawning habitat in the 1/4-mile reach from Slab Creek Dam to the proposed new flow release facility by increasing the amount of spawning gravel in the 600-foot segment between the large pool and new powerhouse.
Submittal of the FNLAA to FERC represents the beginning of the 3rd stage of a 3 stage consultation process that began in October 2011 with the first stage in the consultation, SMUD’s submittal to FERC of an Initial Consultation Document (ICD) for the New South Fork Powerhouse Project. Several public meetings were held as part of the Initial Consultation process including a publicly noticed site visit on December 1, 2011, a meeting on January 17, 2012 in the town of Camino, and a meeting on January 18, 2012 in the community of Swansboro. Formal comments on the ICD were received by SMUD from 15 parties in January and February of 2012.
On February 1, 2012, SMUD conducted a meeting to discuss the Project and address issues/concerns raised by resource agencies, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of the whitewater boating community. Subsequent meetings with these entities occurred on April 25 and August 16, 2012, in which the issues of appropriate studies and environmental protection/mitigation measures were discussed.
On May 8, 2013, SMUD initiated the 2nd stage in the consultation process by releasing the Draft Non-capacity License Amendment Application (DNLAA). Copies of the document were sent to all resource agencies, NGOs, and members of the public who had expressed interest in the project during three public meetings associated with the ICD. Formal comments on the DNLAA were received from 21 parties from June 4 through August 9, 2013. The FNLAA submitted to FERC on August 27th provides copies of each comment letter/email and responses to comments received on the DNLAA. Copies of the FNLAA have been provided to previously interested parties.