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Pacific Northwest Region
Boise, Idaho
Media Contact:
John Redding
(208) 378-5212
Jim Blanchard
(509) 754-0226

Released On: May 20, 2004

Reclamation Releases Banks Lake Drawdown Final EIS
The Bureau of Reclamation has released a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Banks Lake Drawdown which examines the impacts of annually lowering the water surface elevation of Banks Lake in August from 1,565 feet to 1,560 feet.

Two alternatives are considered in the Final EIS; a No Action Alternative and an Action Alternative. The No Action Alternative describes the conditions that would occur without the proposed action, with the August water surface elevation between 1,570 feet, which is the full pool water surface elevation, and 1,565 feet.

The Action Alternative describes the resource conditions that would occur at Banks Lake with August water surface elevations between 1,570 feet and 1,560 feet. The Action Alternative resulted from the National Marine Fisheries Service's December 2000 Biological Opinion, Action 31, which advised Reclamation to assess a 10-foot August drawdown of Banks Lake.

A 10-foot drawdown would result in adverse impacts to recreation, resident fish, vegetation, cultural resources, and the local economy around Banks Lake. There would also be adverse impacts to federal and non-federal power production. For these reasons, the No Action Alternative is identified as the preferred alternative

In the analysis, both alternatives included refill of the reservoir to water surface elevation 1,570 feet by September 22.

A final decision on what action to implement will be made and documented as a Record of Decision no sooner than 30 days after the publication of the Environmental Protection Agency's Notice of Availability of the Final EIS in the Federal Register. The Record of Decision will also discuss the factors leading to the decision which, in addition to the impacts discussed in the EIS, may include other legal considerations. It is scheduled to be issued in the summer of 2004.

Reclamation issued a Draft EIS for the project on January 6, 2003. Public hearings were held February 11, 2003, in Coulee City, Washington, and February 12, 2003, in Moses Lake, Washington.

The original 60-day comment period was extended 30 days from March 10 to April 11, 2003. Notice of the comment period extension was published in the Federal Register on March 17, 2003. A letter announcing the extension was mailed on March 4, 2003, to everyone who was sent a copy of the Draft EIS. A news release announcing the extension of the comment period was sent to area media.

The Final EIS includes responses to all comments received on the Draft EIS and revisions and additions to the analysis as a result of those comments.

The Final EIS is available for viewing on the Internet at www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/bankslakeeis/eaindex.html. Copies of the Final EIS are also available for public review and inspection at Reclamation offices and local area libraries.

Additional information, or a printed copy of the Final EIS, a compact disk (CD-ROM with reader included) or a summary of the final EIS, may be obtained by contacting Jim Blanchard at (509) 754-0226.

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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.