Black Canyon Hydro still pushing a dam on NF Snoqualmie

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

  1. 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
     
  2. 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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  3. Alex MacDonald

    Alex MacDonald that's His Lordship, to you.....

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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!
     
  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    YESSSS!!!

    K