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Copco No. 1 Dam on the Klamath RiverComments sought on Klamath River dams, California water board seeks input on relicensing

Three public meetings in California next week will give the public a chance to air their thoughts about the future of Klamath River dams.

The California State Water Board is hosting meetings in Arcata, Orleans and Yreka to get public input about relicensing three dams that make up the California portion of PacifiCorpís Klamath Hydroelectric Project. The public comment period closes Jan. 29.

PacifiCorp is the parent company of Pacific Power, a utility that provides electricity to much of the West.

The Klamath Hydroelectric Project starts in Klamath County and runs through Siskiyou County. According to scoping documents, the California portion of the project includes three dams: Iron Gate, Copco 1 and Copco 2, and a small hydroelectric facility on Fall Creek, a tributary to the Klamath River. The Oregon portion includes the J.C. Boyle and Keno dams, and two power generation facilities on the Link River.

The project has a capacity of 169 megawatts, which is less than 2 percent of PacifiCorpís total power output, documents said.

According to board documents, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which issues licenses for construction of new hydropower projects and continued operation of existing projects, is the federal agency with jurisdiction over hydropower licensing. FERC licenses are issued for a term of 30 to 50 years. PacifiCorpís Klamath license expired in 2006.

Since then, PacifiCorp has operated the Klamath Hydroelectric Project under annual licenses.To continue operating the project, PacifiCorp needs a new license from FERC, documents said.

The California State Water Board certification process is occurring because the Clean Water Act requires, as part of the FERC relicensing process, applicants to prove discharge from a project will be in compliance with state water quality standards.

According to scoping documents, the State Water Board will prepare an environmental impact report, or a supplemental report, to support consideration of PacifiCorpís application for Clean Water Act certification. The certification will allow the corporation to make modifications to its dams and continue operating the Klamath Hydroelectric Project.

Documents said the impact report will focus primarily on project facilities in California. The portion of the project located in Oregon will be described, but the report will only discuss how discharges from Oregon facilities adversely impact the California environment. Oregonís Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for acting on a certification application for the Oregon facilities.

The first scoping meeting occurred on Jan. 14 in Sacramento. Representatives from seven stakeholder groups, including the Yurok and Karuk tribes, spoke at the meeting.


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