California parties approve initial funds to restore Battle Creek

Federal and state agencies have approved funding agreements to advance one of North America’s largest cold water anadromous fish restoration efforts, including removal or retrofitting of dams in Pacific Gas &Electric Co.’s 37.9-MW Battle Creek hydroelectric project.

The Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Fish and Game, California Wildlife Conservation Board, California Department of Transportation/Bay Area Toll Authority, PG&E, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced July 14 that they signed agreements providing more than $49 million for the first phase of the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project. (HNN 4/4/07)

The first phase of work includes installing fish screens and ladders at the North Battle Creek Feeder and Eagle Canyon Diversion dams, removing Wildcat Diversion Dam and appurtenant conveyance systems of the North Fork, installing Eagle Canyon Canal pipeline, and modifying Ashbury Dam on Baldwin Creek.

Under the agreements, the California state agencies are contributing $42.75 million to implement the first phase. Another $6.5 million in restoration funds will be provided by Iron Mountain Mine Trustee Council, as facilitated by the Fish and Wildlife Service. PG&E and BuRec have completed an implementation agreement associated with the initial phase.

BuRec said Phase 1 construction contracts will be awarded in 2009, with the work to be completed in 2010. The partners already are seeking funds for the next construction phases, so the entire project can be implemented quickly.

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.

The project is to restore about 42 miles of habitat in Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, and an additional six miles of habitat in its tributaries. It is to help restore winter- and spring-run chinook and Central Valley steelhead.

PG&E will continue to operate the project’s five hydropower plants (No. 1121). However, less water will pass through three power plants, 7-MW South, 8-MW Inskip, and 13-MW Coleman. Generation at 9-MW Volta and 900-kW Volta 2 will be unaffected.

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