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Bear River Release Questions

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Bear River Release Questions

Post by charliev on Thu 07 Apr 2011, 11:19 am

I recieved some questions on the post I made a couple weeks ago on the Eddy Flower list that a friend reposted here for me. I thought it may be of interest to some of you for me to post my reply...charlie

Concerning your question on why the past Black Canyon whitewater releases have been predominately on Sunday and your suggestion to “schedule” them on Saturdays for PR.

First a little history/background, to our benefit the Federal Power Act requires utilities with hydropower projects to consider other things (e.g. fisheries, recreation, etc.) besides just power generation when applying for an operating license. The FERC license for PacifiCorp’s Bear river projects in Idaho was renewed in 2003 after several years of studies, negotiation, threats of litigation, etc. Included in the new license were provisions for weekend whitewater releases based on water availability. An instance where recreation interests aligned with the power company; i.e. the lost generation is least valuable on weekends (lower power demand) and most desired by the majority of paddlers.

Per the new license each year up to 16 whitewater releases can potentially occur based on water availability, i.e. when the upstream Soda reservoir inflow exceeds 700 cfs (with some irrigation flow adjustments). During the past 3 years (2008~2010) there were scheduled releases in order to do Ramping Rate Studies which needed to be scheduled for the consultants doing the ecological monitoring. The monitoring was to determine the aquatic impacts (fish stranding was a major metric) of fast, medium and slow reintroduction of water back into the river channel (and shutting it off) during whitewater flow events. For the past 3 years these scheduled Bear releases have been skewed towards Sunday because that was the day PacifiCorp proposed and the ECC stakeholders (I represent American Whitewater) agreed to. These studies required three scheduled releases annually (plus an extra 4th scheduled release in 2009).

Unfortunately many of us got hooked on the predictability of scheduled releases. But these well attended “scheduled” Sunday Ramping study releases were only temporary for the past 3 years. Despite efforts to educate people, most paddlers don’t seem to understand this and the more “normal” (non-scheduled) releases were poorly attended. There were specific instances when the scheduled release on Sunday would have 40-50 people attend and only 5 showed up the preceding Saturday for the same cfs flow. On Father’s day in 2009 a friend and I were the only people who showed up to paddle the whole day!

Going forward the probability is essentially the same for a Saturday and a Sunday release.

FYI, the results from the survey AW did a couple years ago showed no preference by the respondents for Saturday over Sunday releases. Also no preference for clustered releases, e.g. Sat and Sun on the same weekend. Both of these surprised me, particularly no preference for Saturday given the predominate religious orientation in this part of the country.

Hope this helps you understand better the reasons for why things have developed the way they have over the years for the Black Canyon of the Bear whitewater releases. Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions.

Charlie Vincent

Regional Representative

American Whitewater

Salt Lake City, UT




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Re: Bear River Release Questions

Post by johnnie a. on Thu 07 Apr 2011, 11:49 am

I heart Charlie V.

As always, thanks for all of your efforts over the years!!!
johnnie a.

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Re: Bear River Release Questions

Post by brightonb on Thu 07 Apr 2011, 8:37 pm

Thanks for the further info Charlie. Please help keep us updated on further developments or input needs that the community can help with. Cheers!


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Re: Bear River Release Questions

Post by Wassermann on Thu 07 Apr 2011, 11:06 pm

Thanks, Charlie! Let's keep checking that PacificCorp website weekly (I actually look at it almost daily). Looks like this weekend is good, if you like snow on Boo-Boo...

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