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Upper Colorado Region
Salt Lake City, Utah
Media Contact:
Doug Hendrix
(801) 524-3837
Ed Vidmar
(801) 379-1182

Released On: December 15, 2006

Reclamation to Resume Double Peak Flows from Flaming Gorge Dam to Accommodate Regional Hydroelectric Demand
Reclamation announced today that it will soon resume a double peak flow regime from Flaming Gorge Dam to better accommodate regional hydroelectric generation patterns and demand. Beginning on Monday, December 18, 2006, and continuing through February 2007, Reclamation will resume double peak releases from the dam with morning and evening peaks from the dam reaching approximately 1900 cubic-feet-second (cfs). Double peak flow regimes occur when water releases from the dam are increased twice daily to meet hydroelectric power demands.

"Double peak flows have been a normal mode of operation at Flaming Gorge Dam over the course of its 40-year history," said Rick Gold, Regional Director of Reclamation's Upper Colorado Region. "Over the past 11 years through a combination of operational considerations and dry hydrologic conditions, double peak flows have not been scheduled at the facility."

In late 2005, the Western Area Power Association (Western) requested that Reclamation consider a proposal for operations at Flaming Gorge Dam to resume a "double peak" regime to better match the load pattern of federal power customers and reduce the spot market purchases the federal power marketer must make to meet their customer's load demands. Western has estimated the cost savings of a "double peak" regime versus a "single peak" regime to be approximately $8500 per day over a three month winter season (December through February).

Releases from the dam will accommodate two peaks each day in the morning and evening reaching approximately 1900 cfs. Under a single peak operation, the peak flows reach about 1600 cfs during daylight hours. Under the double peak operation, the morning peak, beginning at 7:00 a.m., MST, will have duration of three hours and the evening peak, beginning at 5:00 p.m., MST, will have duration of four hours. Between the morning and evening peaks, releases will be reduced to about 900 cfs.

Releases are scheduled to be 800 cfs during the late evening and early morning hours. The ascending and descending ramp rates for both peaks are 800 cfs/hour. These ramp rates have been agreed to by the parties of the Flaming Gorge Working Group to provide a level of safety and also to maintain habitat in the river corridor below the dam.

The Colorado River Energy Distributors Association, a non-profit organization representing consumer-owned electric systems that purchase federal hydropower and resources of the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP), supports Reclamations action as it will reduce the potential for future rate increases and lessen the impact to the Basin Fund which is used for upkeep and maintenance of the CRSP dam and generating facilities.

Prior to 1993, Flaming Gorge was generally operated under a "double peak" regime. Since 1993, in order to lessen the effects to the sport fishery below the dam, Reclamation has generally operated Flaming Gorge Dam using only a single peak per day with a limited ramp rate of 800 cfs/hour. This was a compromise between power interests and the recreation interests. The single peak operation was not viewed by Reclamation as a long term solution and was based on the presumed condition of the fishery in 1993.

Under the Flaming Gorge Record of Decision (February 2006), the issue of generation patterns was limited to daily stage change downstream at Jensen, Utah, associated with generation patterns at the dam. Reclamation's position from 1993 to the present has been that NEPA is not required because these changes are within the range of normal operations that date back to the 1960s.

Reclamation also sees the merit in collecting scientific information during the double peak operational regime. Based on the draft study plan prepared by Western, impacts to the trout fishery below the dam will be evaluated. Western has committed to provide the Flaming Gorge Work Group and other stakeholders to the process with the results of the study by July 2007.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.