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News :: Environment & Food

West Valley Power Debate

Opponents to the West Valley Hydroelectric Project on the Pit River oppose Barry Swenson's and the South Fork Irrigation District's Proposal.
West Valley power debate
Posted on Tuesday, June 28 @ 13:35:00 PDT
Distraught residents and landowners made emotional statements and fired critical questions during two intense scoping meetings held at the Likely fire hall last week, voicing their opposition to the proposed hydroelectric power project in West Valley, east of Likely on the South Fork of the Pit River.

By Anthony Larson
Staff writer
Federal Energy Resource Commission staff members conducted the meetings to gather public opinion regarding the future project. As proposed, the project would consist of two small hydroelectric turbine generators, one located near the West Valley Reservoir dam and the other near the Jess Valley highway at the bottom of the canyon where Short Creek spills into the South Fork.

Both plants, with a combined output of about 2,600 kilowatts — enough to power about 2,000 average homes — would use water diverted from the South Fork River by an existing canal owned and operated by the South Fork Irrigation District.

Nick Josten, the engineer who filed an application for the power plant with FERC in 2003, was on hand for both meetings to present a slide presentation about the project and to field questions.

"I think hydropower is a wonderful source of energy. It's not without impacts, but it's a perfectly clean source of energy," he said.
The outspoken opponents are approximately six families who live along the river or own land in the canyon and the Hammawi tribe of Native Americans, who have joined them in their opposition. These critics decry the lack of information they have been given about the project and the proposed water diversion.

"There's clearly some information that has to be supplied," Josten said.

"It's a lot of things gone over many times in many different words, but the number of actual issues isn't that big. The answer to those issues is information. And so the first step after this meeting is to try and collect that information — that's going to be my responsibility — and to give that information to the people that are asking for it and to make sure they understand it and believe it."

The opponents' primary concern is the diversion of 100 cubic feet of water per second from the river, leaving about three miles of South Fork with dramatically reduced stream flows. That water would then be returned to the river at its confluence with Short Creek.

For the full story see the June 21 Lassen County Times.

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