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NW Fishletter #386, Oct. 2, 2018
 PUD Proposes to Fund Conservation Instead of Fish Passage
The Pend Oreille County PUD Commissioners announced a proposal to amend its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license for Box Canyon Dam on Sept. 25, and, according to a notice in the Newport Miner, intends to take action on the plan on Oct. 2.
In a proposed settlement agreement with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the PUD would no longer be required under its FERC license to construct downstream fish passage at Box Canyon Dam, or downstream and upstream passage at Calispell Creek Pumping Plant. Instead, the PUD would fund new watershed and conservation programs.
A fact sheet on the proposal shows that the District would pay a total of $72 million over the next 25 years for four different actions, and save an estimated $60 million from now until its FEC license expires in 2055.
The District renewed its license for 50 years in 2005. It was amended in 2009 under a settlement agreement between the PUD and the agencies, and contains conditions that require the PUD to build upstream and downstream fish passage facilities at Box Canyon Dam and the Calispell Creek Pumping Plant. The license includes water quality certification from the Washington Department of Ecology and Environmental Protection Agency.
Under the settlement, the Kalispel Tribe would establish a 25-year watershed program for $36 million, and a 20-year conservation program for $20 million, which will be monitored by the district and others. The agreement would also attempt to resolve litigation over water quality problems in the Pend Oreille River and Calispell Creek, the PUD's fact sheet says.
According to the PUD, the proposal would lock in costs for the remainder of the FERC license term, providing long-term certainty for the District in setting rates. This, according to its fact sheet, could positively impact its creditworthiness and help the PUD market surplus hydroelectric resources.
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