AW Comments on Proposal to Eliminate Summer Flows at Pit 1 (CA)
American Whitewater continues to weigh in on PG&E's efforts to permanently cancel the summer flushing/whitewater flows on the Pit River at the Pit 1 Hydroelectric Project in Northern California. Currently, the proposal is undergoing review by the State Water Resources Control Board ("SWRCB") under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). American Whitewater's comments, which were submitted on Monday, June 24th, can be viewed here. American Whitewater also attended a public meeting on June 11th in Redding to testify to the value of the reach and the importance of preserving recreation opportunities on the river.
Between 2003 and 2009, summer flushing/whitewater flows restored 6 days of whitewater boating opportunities to the Pit River Canyon while improving water quality and curbing aquatic vegetation and mosquito production. The summer flushing/whitewater flows were placed under a temporary suspension order in 2010 after PG&E and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expressed concern that they were harming the endangered Shasta crayfish. Monitoring showed a decline in the number of Shasta crayfish and increase in invasive crayfish within the Pit 1 reach. However, similar and more dramatic population trends are taking place throughout the rest of the Pit River Basin as well–all in areas where summer flushing/whitewater flows do not occur. Invasive crayfish are cited as the biggest threat to the Shasta crayfish.
American Whitewater believes that the SWRCB should take actions to benefit the Shasta crayfish, including putting up barriers to keep invasive crayfish out and examining the impacts of daily operations of the Pit 1 Project on water temperature. The paddling community will have opportunity to comment again after the SWRCB releases its Draft Environmental Impact Report. In the meantime, the summer flushing/whitewater flows have been suspended again for summer 2013. Stay tuned to AW for further updates.