Oroville Project: One Step Closer to New License (CA)
On December 15, 2010, the California State Water Resources Control Board, voted to accept the water quality certification document for the Lake Orville Facilities in Northern California. This is the last major regulatory hurdle before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues a new license for this project. In this meeting, which took most of the day, the board members listened to testimony from a variety of organizations including American Whitewater. Most of the discussion centered around how the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the licensee who operates the project, will be required to mitigate for the project impacts on salmon and steelhead. These measures will include improving water temperature and habitat conditions in the Feather River below Oroville dam and potentially providing for additional habitat outside of the project.
American Whitewater has also been working with the City of Oroville, Feather River Parks and Recreation and other interested parties looking to develop a Whitewater Park in the Orville area. Last year, as part of the settlement agreement, DWR completed a feasibility study analyzing various Whitewater Park alternatives. The City of Oroville has now taken this process a step further by issuing a request for qualifications from consultants that will be hired to aid in the design and development of the Whitewater Park.
Part of the agreement for the relicensing of the Oroville Facilities includes a Supplemental Benefits Fund that could be used to help fund design and construction of a Whitewater Park. DWR will begin their annual contributions of $1 million as soon as the new license is issued by FERC. Now that the State Water Resources Control Board has approved the water quality certification for this project, we expect that FERC would issue the new license within six months. American Whitewater has been involved in this project for almost 10 years; we look forward to seeing the benefits negotiated as part of this new license become a reality.