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Water Storage/Hydropower

Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion

The Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project near Brentwood in Contra Costa County, California, was dedicated in July 2012, following Regional Director Don Glaser’s signature of a Record of Decision for the project the previous year.

The project expanded the existing reservoir’s storage from 100,000 acre-feet to 160,000 acre-feet, an increase of 60 percent, by raising the dam 34 feet in height to 521 feet.

The Contra Costa Water District, which owns and operates Los Vaqueros Reservoir, funded and constructed the $120 million project. Reclamation provided about $18.3 million in planning and permitting assistance, which was essential to construction of the project.

The expansion:

The Region’s issuance of a Record of Decision in 2011 was the final step in documenting Reclamation’s decision to enter into a coordinated operations agreement with Contra Costa Water District.

After providing technical assistance and funding for the engineering and design of the dam facilities, Reclamation worked with other government agencies to secure permits and establish programs that ensure the protection and preservation of biological, cultural, and water resources that occur throughout the project site.

The reservoir expansion was the first storage project to be implemented under the CALFED Bay-Delta Authorization Act of 2004.

CALFED is a 30-year program that began in 2000 when 18 state and federal agencies signed the CALFED Record of Decision. The program is based on four major resource management objectives that guide actions designed to achieve a healthy ecosystem while supplying 25 million Californians with a reliable water supply. The objectives of CALFED are ecosystem restoration, water supply reliability, water quality and levee system integrity. Reclamation plays a key role as the federal lead agency for implementing water supply reliability actions in coordination with state and local partner agencies.

interactive photo:  The Los Vaqueros Dam was raised by 34 feet to a height of 521 feet; click for larger photo

The Los Vaqueros Dam was raised by 34 feet to a height of 521 feet.

New Hydroelectric Plant in Klamath Project

A relatively small but symbolic hydroelectric facility began operation on an irrigation canal in the Klamath Project in Oregon in 2012.

The Bureau of Reclamation joined the Klamath Irrigation District in a dedication ceremony in May for the facility that advanced the federal policy of encouraging non-federal development of clean, renewable power resources on federal water projects.

The C-Drop hydroelectric facility uses the force of water dropping 22 feet from the A Canal to the C Canal to generate up to 1.1 megawatts. Funds from power production will help offset electricity costs for the KID and help keep valuable farmland in production. The facility does not change the diversions or timing of irrigation flows and does not impact fish, due to an existing fish screen on A Canal. The hydropower project was supported by a wide range of local stakeholders and interested parties, including farmers, businesses, and local and state governments.

“This is a perfect example of carrying out President Obama’s ‘all of the above’ strategy for developing clean, renewable American energy supplies,” Commissioner Michael Connor said during the dedication ceremony. “At the same time, the project demonstrates how successful partnerships in hydropower development can maintain reliable water supplies and work in harmony with the environment.”

C-Drop Hydro LLC was formed to develop the $2 million project in conjunction with KID. Reclamation issued a Lease of Power Privilege that authorized work to begin in November 2011. A Lease of Power Privilege is a congressionally authorized alternative to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hydropower licensing. It gives a non-federal entity authorization to use Reclamation-owned water or facilities for generation and sale of hydropower. Reclamation also has transferred operation and maintenance responsibilities to KID for the existing canals, which carry water south from the Link River Dam to the vicinity of Henley, Oregon.

In keeping with the administration’s pursuit of an all-out renewable energy policy, the Department of the Interior and Reclamation have identified more than 370 existing Reclamation canals and conduits that have the potential of generating more than 1.5 million MWh of additional electricity annually.

interactive photo:  Commissioner Michael Connor and Klamath Irrigation District Board Member Ross Fleming at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the C-Drop hydroelectric facility; click for larger photo

Commissioner Michael Connor and Klamath Irrigation District Board Member Ross Fleming at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the C-Drop hydroelectric facility

Surface Water Storage Studies

The Bureau of Reclamation released a Draft Feasibility Report and Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation in 2012, examining the potential to enlarge Shasta Dam and Reservoir to achieve multiple water resources benefits.

The Shasta investigation is one of the surface water storage studies included in the 2000 CALFED Bay-Delta Programmatic Record of Decision and is a continuing feasibility study under the authority of Public Law 96-375.

Shasta Dam, on the upper Sacramento River about nine miles northwest of Redding, Calif., is 602 feet high with a current reservoir capacity of 4.5 million acre-feet. Reclamation completed construction of the dam and reservoir in 1944 for flood control, irrigation water supply, municipal and industrial water supply, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife conservation and navigation purposes.

The draft documents address the potential impacts, costs and benefits of the No Action alternative and five action alternatives evaluated to date. Reclamation and cooperating agencies are analyzing alternative dam raises from 6.5 feet to 18.5 feet and corresponding increases of reservoir storage from 256,000 acre-feet to 634,000 acre-feet.

Reclamation released the documents to share the information generated since completion of the Plan Formulation Report in 2007. A complete Draft EIS will be prepared for formal public review and comment, consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act, as additional scientific information and understanding of the conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is developed and incorporated into the Shasta investigation. A comprehensive public outreach effort will be part of the NEPA process.

interactive photo:  Shasta Dam in Northern California is the subject of studies analyzing whether the structure should be raised; click for larger photo

Shasta Dam in Northern California is the subject of studies analyzing whether the structure should be raised

February 22, 2013