U.S. scopes experimental operations for 1,312-MW Glen Canyon

The Bureau of Reclamation has completed scoping a proposed long-term experimental plan for operation of 1,312-MW Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River near Page.

BuRec said the proposed experimental operations are needed to learn which elements of dam operations and other management actions would lead to recovery and long-term sustainability of downstream resources, while minimizing effects to hydropower capability and flexibility.

The National Environmental Policy Act mandates the scoping process to develop an environmental impact statement on the proposed action. The scoping report summarizes public comments and provides an overview of issues to be analyzed in the EIS.

BuRec received 651 comments during the scoping process. Issues of concern to the public included dam operations, fish and threatened and endangered species, water quality, sediment, experimental design, energy or hydropower, socio-economics, recreation, and cultural resources.

Of the 35 comments made in the energy or hydropower category, 17 said alternatives should focus on protecting or enhancing generation or should limit adverse effects of hydropower production only to the extent needed to achieve recovery and long-term sustainability. Several other comments emphasized the importance of maximizing capacity and flexibility in hydropower operations.

Program to help protect Grand Canyon

BuRec and 16 cooperating agencies will use information from the scoping report to define a range of alternatives for the long-term experimental plan, Regional Director Rick Gold said. (HNN 1/11/07)

The proposed plan could include dam operations, modifications to intake structures, and other management actions such as removal of non-native fish species in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam.

The plan would build on a decade of scientific experimentation and monitoring that has taken place as part of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program. The program was created to protect resources downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, including the Grand Canyon, by building on knowledge gained from experiments, operations, and management actions.

BuRec said the adaptive management program has made significant progress in understanding the relationship between Glen Canyon Dam operations and the resources of the Grand Canyon. The program’s work group proposed actions over the past decade such as a high-flow release of water from the dam in 2004 to rebuild riparian and fish habitat in the Grand Canyon.

Copies of the report, and comments received during the scoping period, are available on the Internet at www.usbr.gov/uc/rm/gcdltep/index.html. BuRec expects to publish a draft EIS in April 2008 and final EIS in November 2008. A record of decision is planned for December 2008.

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