Manager’s Report — March 2020
Columbia River System Operations – Draft Environmental Impact Statement
By the time this issue of Ruralite gets to your mailbox, the region should have received the draft results of the Columbia River System operations environmental impact statement. The DEIS documents the evaluation of the impacts of the long- term coordinated water management functions for the operation, maintenance, and configuration of the 14 federal dam and reservoir projects that comprise the federal Columbia River System.
The DEIS is developed in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act in response to the need to review and update the management of this system. This includes evaluating impacts to resources in the context of new information and changed conditions in the Columbia River basin. Information from this process will inform future decisions and allow for a flexible approach to meeting multiple responsibilities and complying with all applicable laws.
The co-lead agencies—the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration—considered input from the public and tribal, state and local governments obtained during the scoping period and input from cooperating agencies during the development of the DEIS. The agencies applied screening criteria, such as technical feasibility, to develop a reasonable range of alternatives that meet EIS objectives and balance the multiple purposes of the 14 projects. Details of the evaluation, including a preferred alternative, will be available for review in the DEIS.
More than 90% of your electricity is provided by the output of this federal system of dams. Our local economy and community are connected to the river for cultural, agriculture, transportation, recreation, economic and an abundance of other benefits we appreciate here in the Gorge and the Pacific Northwest. In this, we are all connected. Please consider participating in the public comment process to ensure all the region is heard. Passionate and well-funded special interest groups continue to attempt to sway public opinion away from the benefits of the federal system and the carbon-free, flexible, reliable and low-cost attributes of hydroelectricity.
Let me be clear on this next point: A “preferred alternative” or eventual, future state outcome is expected from the DEIS. This outcome will likely change the way the federal system is operated or perhaps even physically constructed. Also—and likely most importantly—whatever the outcome, Northern Wasco County PUD will have a plan for addressing it and a path forward ensuring our continued success. Many thanks to the board of directors for its support in this area.
Lastly, NWCPUD is a member of Northwest RiverPartners. Please visit the Northwest RiverPartners website to learn more about the benefits of hydroelectricity and its role in our clean energy future. Full disclosure: I am also on the board of directors, so I really think they’re great!