UNITED STATES OF
Power Generating Inc.
Name of Project:
unincorporated organization that has been formed to represent those with
environmental, economic and/or recreational interests in High Rock Lake as well
as the other impoundments that are part of Project 2197 and the Upper Yadkin
River Basin, wishes to comment on the request by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. to
implement the management protocol for Project 2197 known as the “Post Sept. 15th
We agree that continued variations
from the operations of the past is necessary during this time of unprecedented
drought but feel that there are several issues that are not adequately addressed
or are inappropriate in the variance request.
- The “Post Sept. 15th Protocol” has been
used for the last three weeks and has already demonstrated several failures.
The stated maximum allowable drawdown for High Rock
Lake in tier 2 has already proven to be unacceptable and will certainly
result in additional fish kills.
The request allows for ongoing dynamic changes to the
stated targets which while possibly advantageous in certain situations does
not allow for any control by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or
input form affected stakeholders.
The request asks for relief from license requirements
that High Rock Lake be within 5 feet of full pond by May 15, 2003.
While this may be necessary, there is more than adequate time to
request this in the future and have the appropriate required hearings and
periods of time for Comments and Motions to be filed.
The request states that what has been learned to date
and what will be learned throughout the process of implementation of the
Protocol concerning acceptable management practices of the Yadkin watershed
will NOT “create a precedent for any issue or future period”.
This is ABSURD!! So far
almost every time a question has been asked or a problem has arisen, the
response has been that we are working with conditions that have never
occurred before and that we are learning daily what are and what are not
acceptable limits to use to protect our important natural resources,
environment and wildlife. Protection
of these elements is vital and to ask that we ignore the knowledge gained is
- Even though the stated allowable drawdown of Narrows
reservoir in tier 1 is 22 feet, drawdowns
were halted there after reaching only 12 feet below full pond due to
problems with the water intake/pump for Albemarle’s municipal water
supply and water was withdrawn from High Rock to bring Narrows back up.
Conversations with the Albemarle Public Utilities Dept. indicate
that they have purchased an emergency diesel pump but do not intend to
repair the problems with their intake/pump at this time and will not be
able to run the emergency pump for extended periods.
Therefore they will simply ask for the level of Narrows to be
raised again if the experience future problems.
Since public water supplies will be protected at almost any cost,
the limits listed for Narrows can essentially be tossed out.
- When Narrows was down 10 to 12 feet, there were
concerns expressed by the NC Wildlife Commission about the dissolved
oxygen levels there and the possibility of fish kills.
Once again, water was withdrawn from High Rock Lake to avoid
- Since High Rock Lake has risen to approximately 10
feet below full pond, there has been a very large fish kill in Abbotts
Creek and Buddle Creek. According
to responses from NC State Agencies the fish kill is the result of low
dissolved oxygen levels at High Rock Lake.
Even though there was ample water coming down the Yadkin River to
raise the level of High Rock Lake considerably during that period, almost
all of it was passed on through to Narrows.
- Even though the Protocol was supposed to insure that
the burden of downstream releases was shared across all of the
impoundments in North Carolina, High Rock Lake is currently down
approximately 56% of the average depth of the lake while Narrows is down
approximately 6% of the average depth, Tuckertown is down approximately
10% of the average depth and Falls less than 9 inches below full pond.
At this point in time it is obvious that High Rock will continue to
bear almost the entire burden of the drought and get the least amount of
consideration in environmental and wildlife issues.
Since FERC is the official
regulatory agency responsible for the protection of all stakeholder interests in
Hydro Electric projects it appears that closer scrutiny of all aspects of the
operations of Project 2197 might be necessary.
The track record to date of protecting the environment, wildlife,
recreational interests and beneficial use of our natural resources is
questionable at best. At this time it appears that the generation of electricity
for the benefit of private industry has been the most protected beneficial use
with only minor consideration given to other stakeholders and most of those were
areas where there were clearly defined federal Acts or regulations with specific
punishment clauses for violations. Only
FERC has the authority to regulate what most people would consider “Common
Sense” and enforce it for the good of the public now and in the relicensing of