U.S. approves plan to modify dams to restore Battle Creek fish habitat

The Bureau of Reclamation is preparing to implement one of North America’s largest cold water anadromous fish restoration efforts, which includes removal or retrofitting of dams in Pacific Gas &Electric Co.’s 37.9-MW Battle Creek project in California.

Mid-Pacific Regional Director Don Glaser signed a record of decision for the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project on Jan. 20, completing the federal environmental documentation process. BuRec said it could begin implementing the program as early as summer 2009, once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues a determination on PG&E’s July 2008 application to amend the license of the Battle Creek project (No. 1121) to support the program.

The program is expected to restore about 42 miles of habitat in Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, and an additional six miles of habitat in tributaries to Battle Creek. It is expected to help restore imperiled winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead while minimizing the loss of energy produced by the Battle Creek hydroelectric project.

PG&E will continue to operate the project’s five hydropower plants. However, less water will pass through three plants, 7-MW South, 8-MW Inskip, and 13-MW Coleman. Generation at 9-MW Volta and 900-kW Volta 2 will be unaffected.

State and federal funding is available to implement the first phase of the restoration project. (HNN 7/16/08) Phase 1 calls for installing fish screens and ladders at North Battle Creek Feeder and Eagle Canyon Division dams, removing Wildcat Diversion Dam and appurtenant conveyance systems on the North Fork, installing a pipeline at Eagle Canyon Canal, and modifying Ashbury Dam on Baldwin Creek.

Subsequent construction phases include installing an Inskip Powerhouse tailrace connector and bypass on the South Fork, installing a fish screen and ladder on Inskip Diversion Dam, installing a South Powerhouse tailrace connector, and removing Lower Ripley Creek Feeder, Soap Creek Feeder, Coleman and South Diversion dams, and appurtenant conveyance systems.

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