article photo 34425.jpg

Help get new river access and flow info for the Kaweah River (CA)

Posted: 04/01/2020
by Scott Harding

The Kaweah River is one of the crown jewels of southern Sierra whitewater. Flowing out of Sequoia National Park, the river and its forks offer challenging, non-stop whitewater through golden granite canyons. But despite its grandeur and popularity, boaters have long been challenged by inadequate public river access and a lack of real-time flow information for the Middle Fork and East Fork Kaweah rivers. 

American Whitewater is working to resolve these issues through the hydropower relicensing process for Southern California Edison's Kaweah Hydroelectric Project, and we need your help. Please take a few minutes to send comments supporting improved access and flow info. 

We are asking the utility to allow public river access at two powerhouses in order to provide put-ins and take-outs for the Middle Fork and a much-needed take-out for the East Fork. We're also advocating for extension of the access season at a third powerhouse. And, to end the problem of arriving at the river only to find that flows aren't suitable, American Whitewater is requesting that the utility provide essential real-time flow information to boaters.

So far, Southern California Edison has refused to provide river access at two of its powerhouses and has agreed to make some-but not all-of its flow information available. We need to make sure that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hears from boaters so that we get the public access and flow information that we need for this stunning river. 

Please follow the steps below to send your comments to FERC and help improve Kaweah River boating.

HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS

  1. Copy the sample comments below.
  2. Go to https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx and fill in your contact info. You will receive an email with a link to the eComment system.
  3. Click the link in the FERC eComment Request email. 
  4. Enter docket number P-298-081, click Search, then click the blue "+"
  5. Paste in the sample comments, add your personal message about the Kaweah at the top , and click "Send Comment". Done!


SAMPLE COMMENTS

Dear Secretary Bose,

The Kaweah River and its forks provide world-class whitewater boating opportunities that draw paddlers from across the US and the world. However, access issues and a lack of essential flow information impairs paddlers' ability to safely and reliably enjoy sections of the Kaweah, East Fork Kaweah, and Middle Fork Kaweah within and adjacent to Southern California Edison's Kaweah Hydroelectric Project. These issues can be addressed by improving the recreation enhancement measures that SCE has proposed in their Draft License Application. Please ensure that the follow issues are addressed in the relicensing process:

1.     River Access

The lack of legal public access minimizes boating use on the Middle Fork and East Fork Kaweah rivers. SCE can significantly improve access by allowing public passage through their project properties at Powerhouses No. 1 and No. 3. River access at Powerhouse No. 3 would provide a take-out for the Ash Mountain run and a put-in for the Park Boundary run and requires only a simple foot path, parking spaces, and a portable restroom. River access at Powerhouse No. 1 would provide a safer take-out point for the boaters using both the Park Boundary run on the Middle Fork and the lower East Fork Kaweah and ensure ongoing public access. The existing river access at Powerhouse No. 2 should be made available seven days per week during periods of boatable flows.

2.         Real-time Flow Information

The lack of adequate real-time flow information poses safety and usability challenges to boaters. We appreciate that SCE has agreed to provide previously unavailable flow information for the East Fork (SCE Gage No. 201) and the Kaweah (Gage No. 203). This is very useful; however, SCE should also provide flow information for the rivers both above and below Kaweah No. 1 Diversion Dam on the East Fork and Kaweah No. 2 Diversion Dam on the Middle Fork. This will enable boaters to understand flows on both forks and the mainstem, improving safety and eliminating the problem of arriving at the river to discover that flows are unsuitable. There is no other way for boaters to get this flow information.

The rivers of the Sierra are an immense public treasure, and the Kaweah is one of its crown jewels.  Please help improve whitewater recreation by encouraging SCE to provide essential public access and real-time flow information.

Thank you for considering improvements to the proposed recreation enhancement measures for the Kaweah Hydroelectric Project.

Theresa Simsiman
Sacramento, CA