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FERC issues final EIS for Don Pedro and La Grange hydro projects in California

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff prepared a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the relicensing of the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts’ 168-MW Don Pedro Project and for licensing of the 4.7-MW La Grange Project.

On April 28, 2014, the districts filed an application (amended on Oct. 11, 2017) for the Don Pedro Project on the Tuolumne River in Tuolumne County, California. The Don Pedro Project occupies 4,802 acres of federal land administered by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

On Oct. 11, 2017, the districts filed an application for an original operating license for the existing La Grange Project on the Tuolumne River in Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties, California, immediately downstream of the Don Pedro Project. The proposed project boundary would occupy 14 acres of federal land administered by BLM.

The primary issues associated with relicensing and licensing the projects are:

  • Erosion and sedimentation control;
  • Restoration of floodplains in the lower Tuolumne River;
  • Flow regimes in project-affected reaches for aquatic resources;
  • Spill cessation schedules following high-flow periods to mimic natural conditions and for whitewater boating opportunities;
  • Protection of plant and wildlife resources and special-status species;
  • Effects on fall-run chinook salmon;
  • Effects on threatened and endangered species including Central Valley steelhead, North American green sturgeon, California red-legged frog, and valley elderberry longhorn beetle;
  • Recreation enhancements;
  • Protection of cultural resources

In the final EIS, FERC staff recommended the staff alternative, which consists of measures included in the districts’ proposals, as well as many of the mandatory conditions and recommendations made by state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, and some additional measures developed by the staff.