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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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September 23, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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September 23, 2015
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 7B Officials say devastated fishery is the latest casualty of the drought Susan Cort Johnson Westwood Editor WP@lassennews.com Word spread quickly Sunday, Sept. 13, that Mountain Meadows Reservoir near Westwood was dry. The sparse amount of water it contained, reportedly 170 acre-feet as of Thursday, Sept. 10, rushed out when an outlet valve clogged with debris was cleared. As a result hundreds, perhaps thousands, offish died, according to Andrew Jensen, senior environmental scientist for the Northern Region Inland Fisheries Program for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. An accurate estimate was impossible due to the muddy condition of the water below Indian Ole Dam. There were also fish scattered throughout the thick mud remaining in the reservoir. Mountain Meadows Reservoir is part of the Upper Feather River Hydroelectric System operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. With operations oversight, the utility company was quickly blamed for the tragedy. Yet, officials stated the devastation of this fishery is an indication of the severity of the drought that has gripped California for four years. The conditions at Mountain Meadows Reservoir are not unique and the state is struggling to manage shrinking water levels all over the state, according to Jensem Earlier this summer streams were drying so fast his department moved redband trout to a hatchery to save them. Jensen said the goal of his department was to do everything possible to buffer the fisheries and wildlife from the impact of the drought. His office began working with PG&E in the middle of August at the company's request. "They were looking for input on how to minimize impact to the biological resources in the reservoir and downstream," said Jensen. Following an assessment, a determination was made by CDFW to maximize storage in the reservoir to protect fish and wetlands. The reservoir is also a stopover for migrating birds. CDFW and PG&E agreed to reduce flows into Hamilton Branch, the stream below the dam, to 0.25 cubic-feet-per-second plus seepage, said Matt Myers, the Region 1 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission coordinator for CDFW. PG&E is required to release a minimum amount of flow under an agreement with CDFW to maintain the stream below the dam. The current release was established at two cfps. There are also requirements regarding lake levels and the operation of the Hamilton Branch Hydroelectric Plant where the stream flows into Lake Almanor. This plant cannot be used to generate power once the reservoir is at 1,750 acre-feet, and has not See Empty, page 8B The reservoir, after being drained on Sept. 13, is completely dry. The reservoir contained as much as 170 acre-feet of water as of Sept. 10. Photo by Garry Pritchard J J As the Mountain Meadows Reservoir empties, dead fish remain in the murky water on Sunday, Sept. 13. Photo by Ron Lunder i...-~:'.~.2 ~ Jacob Frederickson, Richard Edmiston, Ron Horton, Jesse Froemmling, Stephanie Horton, Chris Ray, Justin Sutton, Brandi Ray, Tristin Ray, George Courtemanche Jr., Matt McKay, Cody Dye Heri at Les Schwab/Horton Tire, we have been using Feather Publishing for our advertising for over 23 years. We see results on a day-to-day basis from our newspaper and insert ads. Our CUSTOMERS come first, and the newspaper is a great way to inform everyone on what we have, including sale items. Advertising Works- Thank You, Feather Publishing The Horton Team