The final nail in Auburn dam's coffin?
CSPA's protest results in State ruling to revoke the Bureau of Reclamation's water rights permits for the proposed Auburn Dam
October 23, 2008 -- In 1998, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance filed a protest regarding the Bureau Of Reclamation's (BOR) permits to divert water for the Auburn Dam Project. Ten years later, 37 years after the project was first permitted, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) called a hearing to determine whether the permits should be revoked. In mid July, 2008, CSPA's Bill Jennings and Chris Shutes testified in favor of revocation at the subsequent hearings regarding the revocation of the permit hearing, along with Ron Stork from Friends of the River and other allies. CSPA attorney Mike Jackson deftly and relentlessly cross-examined Bureau representatives and other Dam proponents..
Even though no work on Auburn Dam has taken place for more than a decade, the Bureau’s water rights permits actually kept the hope of resurrection possibility alive in the hearts of some federal water contractors, politicos and Congressional hopefuls. They were waiting for the big drought to retake the river and reverse past Congressional decisions with water rights in hand to make the project appear feasible.
Hope springs eternal, but water rights permits do not. Today, the SWRCB has rendered a draft decision to revoke the Bureau’s permits. Given the strength of the decision, which finds no merit in any of the arguments put forth in the hearing by Dam proponents, it is unlikely that the SWRCB will reverse its decision at this late date. However, a public hearing must be scheduled prior to the issuance of a final decision. The hearing is scheduled sometime in late November or early December, date and site yet to be announced. Should this draft decision be approved by the SWRCB, it would put some pretty big nails in the Auburn Dam coffin.
Today’s outcome shows that the enforcement and hearing process at the SWRCB can be effective if given a chance to work. CSPA’s consistent and constant presence at the Board is unrivalled by other environmental and fisheries organizations.
DRAFT ORDER REVOKING WATER RIGHT PERMITS 16209, 16210, 16211, AND 16212 (APPLICATIONS 18721, 18723, 21636, AND 21637), WHICH AUTHORIZE THE UNITED STATES BUREAU OF RECLAMATION TO DIVERT WATER FROM THE NORTH FORK AMERICAN RIVER AND KNICKERBOCKER CREEK FOR THE AUBURN DAM PROJECT IN PLACER AND EL DORADO COUNTIES