Catawba Analysis Released, Meetings Planned

posted March 20, 2009
by Kevin Colburn

article photo 1

 

Last week Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff released their draft analysis of the proposed management of a string of dams on North and South Carolina's Catawba River.  The draft environmental assessment (DEA) compared three alternatives.  The first is the current management, which they are required to consider.  The second alternative is the settlement agreement that Duke Power, American Whitewater, and dozens of other stakeholders signed in 2006, based on 4 years of studies and negotiations.  The third alternative is the settlement agreeement with several modifications that FERC staff propose.  FERC will be hosting public meetings and accepting written public comments to hear the public's concerns and thoughts regarding their analysis.  Interested paddlers are encouraged to attend the meetings.

The Settlement Agreement calls for:

 

  • Conservation of thousands of acres and many miles of river banks.
  • Scheduled recreational releases on several class I and II river reaches.
  • New scheduled releases on the Great Falls of the Catawba.
  • New river access areas and trails. 
  • New flow information, including a gage on Wilson Creek.
  • Much, much more.

 

             American Whitewater is very proud of the settlement agreement and fully support that agreement.  We hope that paddlers commenting to FERC either at the meetings or in writing will offer their unqualified support for the settlement agreement, which was carefully developed with the participation of local paddlers (principally Andrew Lazenby on behalf of AW and Maurice and Mottie Blackburn on behalf of the Carolina Canoe Club).  AW staff have completed a cursory review of FERC's analysis and while FERC has fully supported the portions of the settlement agreement most important to paddlers, we have some concerns about FERC's proposed modifications to our settlement agreement.  We will be meeting with the settlement signatories in April to determine if we, as a group, will support or oppose FERC's proposed modifications to our agreement.   

 

            You can access any portion of the DEA here, and we recommend that interested paddlers read the executive summary.  

 

            Once FERC receives the public comments they will take several months to integrate those comments into their analysis.  They are expected to issue the Final Environmental Assessment this fall and with any luck they will issue the license shortly thereafter.  If we have learned anything from the Nantahala and Tuckasegee dam relicensings, we have learned to not make predictions of when a hydropower license will be issued and implemented.  For now, we are celebrating the progress that FERC's release of their DEA marks.    

 

Below is the FERC announcement of the meetings:

 


 

All interested individuals, organizations, and agencies are invited to attend one or more of the public meetings.  The agency meeting will focus on resource agency and non-governmental organization (NGO) concerns, while the evening meetings are primarily for public input.  The time and location of the meetings are as follows:

Evening Meeting

Date:               Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Time:              7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. (EST)
Place:            
CharlesMackCitizensCenter
                        (Town of
MooresvilleCitizenCenter)
Address:        
215 North Main St.
                       
Mooresville, NC
                        704-662-3334

Daytime Meeting

Date:               Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Time:              9:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. (EST)
Place:            
BaxterHoodCenter (YorkTechnicalCollege)
Address:        
452 S. Anderson Rd.
                       
Rock Hill, SC
                        803-981-7100
 

            Evening Meeting

Date:               Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Time:              7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. (EST)
Place:            
BaxterHoodCenter (YorkTechnicalCollege)
Address:        
452 S. Anderson Rd.
                       
Rock Hill, SC
                        803-981-7100

Individuals, organizations, and agencies with environmental expertise and concerns are encouraged to attend the meetings and to discuss their comments on staff’s recommendations included in the draft EIS.  At these meetings, resource agency personnel and other interested persons will have the opportunity to provide oral and written comments and recommendations regarding the draft EIS.  The meeting will be recorded by a court reporter, and all statements (verbal and written) will become part of the Commission’s public record for the project.  This meeting is posted on the Commission’s calendar located at http://www.ferc.gov/EventCalendar/EventsList.aspx along with other related information.

Written comments should be filed with:  Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, N.E., Washington, DC, 20426All comments must be filed by May 8, 2009, and should reference Project No. 2232-522.  Comments may be filed electronically via the Internet in lieu of paper.  The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings.  See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(1)(iii) and instructions on the Commission’s website at http://www.ferc.gov under the eLibrary link.


 




Associated Rivers

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Catawba [SC]

Associated Projects

  • Catawba Relicensing (SC)
    The relicensing of a string of dams on the Catawba River could restore the Great Falls of the Catawba, and bring massive public benefits throughout the watershed.

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