Black Canyon Hydro still pushing a dam on NF Snoqualmie

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Thomas Mitchell, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. Thomas Mitchell

    Thomas Mitchell Active Member

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    I was contacted through this site by an environmental consultant that has been engaged by Black Canyon Hydro. The consulting form is Confluence Research & Consulting and the request was for my participation in an impacts assessment on recreation (fishermen): http://confluenceresearch.com

    The developer website is here: http://www.blackcanyonhydro.com

    The consultants seem very experienced and stated they seek to provide unbiased information regarding the project impacts and they have worked on both sides of these sorts of projects. However, I declined to participate. Anything that implicitly or explicitly helps Black Canyon Hydro further it's plans to put a dam on the NF Snoqualmie isn't something in which I'm interested in supporting.

    Out of consideration to the consultant, I won't post the actual request but I wanted the forum to know that this project has not yet died its just death. They are still pushing this hydro damn on the NF. I know many forum members provided online feedback when the issue was first raised last year. It's not Pebble Mine but hopefully we can prevent a dam going in on the North Fork Snoqualmie.

    Thanks,

    Thomas
     
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  2. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Good work Thomas. I am concerned about the impact of this dam on the native wild trout fishery because the impact on fishermen will be low. From what I understand, access to the NF is difficult because of the cost of a permit from the timber company, and the project could go forward if it impacts only a few people, regardless of its effects on aquatic resources.

    Sg
     
  3. Thomas Mitchell

    Thomas Mitchell Active Member

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    Salmo_g,

    Yes, I think you're right. Access for fishing is fairly difficult in this area. Personally, I'm more concerned with the long-term impacts of the dam construction and ongoing maintenance to the river, fish, fauna and flora than I am for recreational opportunities. Then there's the precedent this sets for future projects.

    There will be a lot of digging to put in this tunnel...

    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msi...ll=47.557646,-121.715469&spn=0.064873,0.07802

    I would rather us get more efficient in how we get Columbia wind power to and through the grid than tearing up the NF Snoqualmie for a 25MW dam.
     
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  4. Jim Speaker

    Jim Speaker Active Member

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    There needs to be a stipulation that it's a tailwater dam if somehow it does go thru!

    I jest, I jest... well... sorta. ;)
     
  5. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

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    And then increased access to fisherman, and loads and loads of big old fat hatchery trout put in there, maybe some browns even. That will make it all better.
     
  6. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    You hit the nail on the head. The problem is a "system" that sees wild places and things as just money laying on the ground. Unless users can make an argument that there is more money lost than there is to be picked up, this is a done deal.
     
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  7. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    I remember a study done by a bio at WDFW Mill Creek office that documented the movements of trout in the basin. He discovered that over the course of the year, there was quite a bit of movement of trout between the 3 forks and mainstem. I recall the movement seemed to be related to spawning and turbid water events but they weren't sure all the reasons However, it was not uncommon for a fish from one fork to spawn in the trib of another fork. Based on this study, one might be able to make a case that a NF dam will impact anglers as it will impact the natural movement of fish through the system. The fish I may catch tomorrow on the SF may be a NF fish - or would have been if it weren't trapped behind a Dam!
     
  8. psycho

    psycho Active Member

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    In BC we have a lot of RRPs, they are all a disaster.Most do not have any oversight on them, they produce power when it is not needed ( in the spring when all reservoirs are full.:mad: BC HYdro was forced by our government to buy power from them for 99years ( contract length) at prices that are ridiculous into days market. Three to four times the current market price of electricity. :mad:
     
  9. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Thomas, I too was contacted by Doug. For the record, I am also opposed to the proposed dam on the NF. But I have elected to go ahead with a discussion with his firm. Here's why:

    Doug was hired to assess the impacts of the project on the fishing community that uses the NF Snoqualmie. Simply put, if nobody tells him and the project sponsors that their project will have an adverse impact on the fishery, it would be easy to conclude that there is no angler interest in that stretch of the river.

    We can indeed work together to prevent the dam project from going forward. But being silent won't accomplish that end.

    Engaging Doug and his firm in a dialog and telling him you disagree with and are opposed to the project is not helping Black Canyon Hydro. Instead, it's sending a message that folks DO fish there and aren't supportive of their plans for the dam. I hope you'll reconsider taking this opportunity to go on record with your opposition.

    For others interested in speaking out against the project, please send me a PM and I'll provide details as well as contact information for you to register your opposition.

    K
     
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  10. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

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    Well, I have to agree with Kent here. If you don't tell them they will never know. The fact that they will probably choose to ignore the information is there also. But at least it sets the record.
     
  11. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    Danm the dams. I have yet to see a dam that didn't have an extemely negative impact on the river it is damming and the surrounding environs. There is no way we can put a gigantic concrete plug in a river and not adversely affect it and its enviroment. Just can't do it.
     
  12. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    I don't disagree with you, Kerry, but this particular dam is designed as an inflatable weir that can be lowered to eliminate flow restrictions when needed (presumably in floods or in winter), rather than a permanent concrete structure.
    D
     
  13. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald Dr. of Doomology

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    I'm not a fan of dams of any sort, but the reality of the situation is that globally, most of us have chosen not to live in the Neolithic, and demand power. Currently there are not a lot of (to me) acceptable power sources that don't pollute, and whether you like it or not, the population is expanding. People are going to need power, and hydropower is the least polluting of generator facilities (wind turbines to me are an eyesore on the landscape, but they plant the things too far apart to be dropped with any functional application of compound 4!). Until there's a viable and efficient alternative, what else is there? Coal comes to mind real quick, but apparently we don't smoke it "no mo", according to BHO, anyway, and I'm sure we all would welcome another Hanford up on Snoqualmie Pass, right?

    What is encouraging is the lessons we're learning from the Elwha dam removals. If it comes to pass that we can successfully restore this river, then dams might be able to be seen as power "stopgap" structures, rather than monuments.
     
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  14. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    Perhaps I should learn myself up on this project before opening my big mouth. Although, for some reason I still question the ability to place an inflatable plug in a river and not adversely affect it. I will read more on this.
     
  15. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    I have my doubts, too. Especially if they intend to inflate/deflate it as needed to generate power at peak demand, it would wreak havoc with flow levels below the dam and above the outflow. The project seems to have some sort of large underground storage (I couldn't quite figure it out from the limited info available), which might be designed to buffer demands on the river, so that diversion could remain relatively even, while flow through the turbines could be adjusted to meet demand.

    Alex is correct in pointing out that increasing population growth, combined with global climate change/warming is going to place demands on our rivers that many of us will not like, especially as snowpack water storage declines and needs to be replaced by impounded water storage.
    D
     
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  16. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    After learning more this afternoon, the plan seems to be to deploy the inflatable diversion dam during periods of heavy flow and then stow it during low flows. (A similar dam is currently being proposed for the Skykomish. How well they perform or how durable they might be on large, high-flow, high-gradient rivers though is an open question.)

    Since low flows coincide with the fishability of the NF (remember it's above Snoqualmie Falls and thus has no anadromous fish) from roughly mid-July through Labor Day or a bit later, it's unlikely that the dam would interfere with fishing activity. Even then, the only area that would be affected is the stretch immediately below river mile 5, just up from the black canyon, a stretch that's difficult and dangerous to access, even during low late summer flow.

    The larger, unanswered question though is how might the dam and it's diversion tunnel and power station affect fish, especially as they migrate to safer locations during periods of heavy flow?

    Doug and his firm are looking to host a couple of town hall-style meetings on or around July 29 in the North Bend area, exact location TBD. I'm not sure whether I'll be in town then (thanks to Mrs. Lufkin's ever-changing summer calendar) but it would be a good idea for as many of us as possible to attend and to make our views known.

    K
     
  17. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    In response to remarks about water storage, this project is described as a "run-of-river" hydro, meaning that the project flow above the diversion and downstream of the powerhouse are the same, whenever the powerhouse is in operation. Where the streamflow is different is the bypass reach, that part of the river between the low diversion dam (these are typically in the 6 to 15' range) and the powerhouse tailrace where it rejoins the river channel. There are other run-of-river small hydro projects in the region (Koma Kulshan on Sandy Creek, Baker River watershed; Weeks Falls on the SF Snoqualmie; Woods Creek and Youngs Creek on the Skykomish; and NF Nooksack, as examples). An important aspect of these type of projects is that they produce most of their power during the spring runoff, when the region has massive surplus energy. They operate at half or less of their potential output in the winter when NW regional energy demands are highest. That's a downside to their lack of storage. OTOH, lack of storage vastly reduces their environmental impact.

    Key aspects of this project are whether fish screens will be required on the intake (I would think so, but these are sometimes waived), fish passage over or around the diversion dam, and the minimum instream flow regime set for the bypass reach.

    Sg
     
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  18. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald Dr. of Doomology

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    Is a "gubmint" entity thinking about doing this? It's been my experience that if something absolutely, positively has to be fucked up beyond all recognition, then that's the bunch to do it!
     
  19. gabe0430

    gabe0430 Banned or Parked

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    No one likes dams, no one likes coal, no ones like nuclear, no one like to be at the mercy of the Arabs for oil, even the wind turbines get challenged at every location........but everyone likes their big house with the electric meter spinning happily so they can use the TV, PC, Heat and hot water and all the other comforts........There is a word for this kind of thinking..... Keep in mind the government has to provide power to 350 million people. How do you suppose they do that? And don't say solar because its stupid to think solar can meet the power needs of this country. In the grand scheme of things this dam is a good choice, a tiny portion of the population fishes the NF, not many fish there anyways, and it sounds like they want to make it environmentily friendly. I would estimate that maybe 100 or so people fish the NF a year. I am sure it will be fishable afterwards and you still have the MF and SF and a 45 min drive to the awesome YAK. Dam the river the stock it with trout from a hatchery and everyone WINS

    And the NFS are living a long lost pipe dream so too bad if they don't like hatchery fish, the ship has sailed on that one.

    BTW I would vote for the dam

    Those that would vote against it please turn off your PC, TV, lights and sit in the dark.
     
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  20. Thomas Mitchell

    Thomas Mitchell Active Member

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    Black Canyon Hydro, LLC appears to be a privately held for-profit company.

    Kent brings up a very good point about using our voice in participating in the impact assessment. I thought about this quite a bit before deciding to decline and the decision was likely colored by my own professional experience. In my 9-5 gig, we frequently engage independent consultants for research among many other activities. The research is sound and unbiased but these types of engagements are targeted and that in and of itself introduces a sort of implicit bias.

    The admittedly simplistic scenario that ran through my head was as follows:

    Consultant - "Will the proposed project prevent you from your normal fishing activities on the NFS?"
    Me - "No. Almost no one fishes that stretch due to the difficulty and sometimes dangerous conditions."

    The same questions is then asked of other fishermen and the published result is someting like:

    "88% of interviewed fishermen state that the proposed project will not impact there normal fishing activities".

    Taken in that limited context, it might seem like me and those other hypothetical fishermen are OK with the project when that is not the case at all. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so I've heard.

    My opposition to the project has nothing to do with whether it will affect my fishing or not. Rather, that from a 'true' cost/benefit view, the costs to this project far outweigh the benefit of electricity for 9,000 homes, especially given the constraints note by Salmo_g above.

    The costs I'm referring to are not the costs that Black Canyon is building into their profitability model, which they must have or else they would not be pushing the project. Rather it's the costs that you and I will bear - the negative externalities such as the effects on the environment of a new dam on an otherwise free-flowing river including the effects of digging a long diversion tunnel, roads to build the tunnel, even the base aesthetic loss associated with a manmade structure. In economic theory, these are called 'externalities' and can be both positive and negative. In this case, I can't think of any positives but that might be bias on my part. Speculation on my part but I think it it were possible to quantify and put a price tag on the costs associated with the negative externalities and in turn allocate them to the Black Canyon project, it would no longer be profitable.

    Dave strikes me a very professional and thoughtful fellow. If at all possible I will attend any public meetings held to engage in dialogue about the project. My point was not to remain silent, rather to first lend my voice to those groups that are leading the effort to block the project.
     
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