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Water Quality Certification Program

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project No. 2101
Project Name: Upper American River Hydroelectric Project (UARP)

Three photos of the area Photos taken from cover of FERC Environmental Impact Statement

Applicant: Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
Counties: El Dorado and Sacramento
License Expiration Date: June 30, 2064
Water Quality Certification Status: Issued - October 4, 2013
Waterbodies: Rubicon River, Silver Creek, South Fork
FERC Licensing Process: Alternative Licensing Process


Project Description:

UARP was constructed between 1959 and 1985 and was gradually placed in service between 1961 and 1985.

UARP is located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and uses water for power generation derived from surface runoff accumulated from approximately 674 square miles of drainage area in the Rubicon River, Silver Creek and South Fork American River watersheds, most of which flows in a generally westward direction. The topography of the UARP watersheds is characterized by mountains in the east, gradually changing to low, rounded hills in the lower elevations towards the west. FERC’s UARP boundary encompasses 6,375.2 acres of United States-owned land administered by the United States Forest Service as part of the El Dorado National Forest, and 53.9 acres of United States-owned land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

UARP consists of seven hydroelectric developments with eight powerhouses and 11 reservoirs (Rubicon Reservoir, Buck Island Reservoir, Loon Lake Reservoir, Gerle Creek Reservoir, Robbs Peak Reservoir, Ice House Reservoir, Union Valley Reservoir, Junction Reservoir, Camino Reservoir, Brush Creek Reservoir and Slab Creek Reservoir).

UARP is upstream of the Chili Bar Hydroelectric Project (Chili Bar Project), and greatly influences the operations of the Chili Bar Project. The Relicensing Settlement Agreement for the Upper American River Project and Chili Bar Hydroelectric Project (Settlement Agreement) addresses the issues of inconsistent flow and limited storage capacity associated with the Chili Bar Project and its connection to UARP. Implementation of the cooperation agreement between SMUD and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (owner of the Chili Bar Project) should regulate flows between the two projects.

State Water Board staff have been involved throughout the FERC relicensing process (which began in 2001), and provided guidance during the Settlement Agreement process. The Settlement Agreement addressed the majority of issues raised during the relicensing process and the draft water quality certification includes many of the terms of the Settlement Agreement, with minor changes. FERC relicensed the project on July 23, 2014.

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