Partner – Reset Meeting
Date: June 7, 2013, 10:30 am – 2:00 pm PST
Venue: WaterLife Discovery Center, Sagle, Idaho
BPA – Jill Leary, Jenna Peterson, Bill Maslen, Don Rose and Lee Watts
BLM – Doug Evans
Avista – Nate Hall
ACOE – Betsy Hull
Kalispel Tribe – Ray Entz
IDFG – Chip Corsi and Kathy Cousins
1. Lake Level Management
It was acknowledged that the State/BPA letter agreement has the lake being held at its lowest level of 2,051 feet in the 2013/2014 winter so that the delta restoration project could move forward. The discussion centered on whether it would be possible to hold the lake at 2,051 feet for two years in a row so the restoration project could go forward in the winter of 2014/2015.
The lake has been held at either 2,055 or 2,051 feet in the past to provide benefits for Kokanee. Managers used a decision-tree approach to setting the lake level. Recent findings suggest that this management strategy might be changing. The 2,051 foot elevation is the operating baseline, and so it was felt that there would be no push from the ACOE or BPA to increase the lake level to 2,055 feet.
Further cultural resource survey work is needed for the area of the delta between 2,055 and 2,051 feet. Most of the project construction occurs above the 2,055 foot elevation, and these areas have been surveyed this past winter. Areas below 2,055 feet could be surveyed this coming winter if the lake is held at 2,051 feet. It was noted that with the exception of a protective breakwater north of Area 3 and some roadways in front of Area 7, most of the project construction occurs above 2,055 feet.
Another potential benefit to having the lake drawn down to 2,051 feet is that Eurasian milfoil may be killed if a hard freeze occurs after the full draw down.
BPA indicated that the group should assume that the lake will be held at 2,051 feet in elevation for the winter of 2014/2015, and that everyone needs to start to work together and coordinate so that this can happen.
2. Project Scope
The group acknowledged that the project scope will include the entire delta area. The approach will be to prepare a programmatic NEPA document so that restoration of the entire delta can be implemented over several years or as funding becomes available.
At present, the project design and plan has only been for the northern portion of the delta, but a design and plan can be easily prepared for the southern portion (i.e., White and Derr Islands or Areas 5 and 6).
Some discussion occurred regarding framing the Proposed Action (i.e., completing a restoration project for all Areas). Suggestions included to break the project into phases, or to assess the project’s protection component separate from the restoration component. Also mentioned was operating the dam so the lake will be held at historical levels. It was decided that an effort would be made to keep the process and alternatives simple and to see what emerges from the public scoping meetings.
3. Project Schedule
The group worked on editing a draft schedule (attached). It was noted that the NEPA contractors begin work on June 10, 2013. Suggestion was made to tie the public scoping meetings with the mid-July Partner meeting.
Discussion regarding some proposed activities that could be considered pre-decisional ended with the need to investigate further. These activities include the ordering of plants and surveying of construction locations. Nursery plants needed during the project construction must be ordered one year in advance and a deposit made. The engineers would like to survey Bendway weir locations during low water conditions and prior to barging so the barge operators know where to deposit the rock.
4. Project Resources
Following the letter agreement, BPA will provide a total of $3 million, less what has been spent on project planning/design and NEPA contracting, $250K and $145K, respectively. Another $3 million might be made available in the future. It was also noted that an additional $1.5 million in capital could also be applied to the project if there was agreement to do so (note: Gregg Servheen indicated that IDFG intends this $1.5M for acquisitions).
Avista Corporation is prepared to provide about $3 million.
It was suggested that a monthly spending plan be developed. It was noted some flexibility was desired, such that if actions could occur in a particular year with more capital, then there might be more funding made available.
It was also noted that funding may be needed for any repairs during the first couple of years after completion of the project construction. It was suggested to consider a contingency fund for this purpose when drafting the project budget. Funding for any future project operations and maintenance (O&M) would need to be integrated from current budgets.
Communications such as setting up a web page for the project will be needed. Possible webpage layouts will be made available for the partners to review at the mid-July meeting. It was suggested that PISCES could be used as a “drop box” for partners.
5. Next Steps
Finalize draft meeting minutes and the draft schedule. The draft schedule will be shared with contractors and shown to all partners at the mid-July partner meeting. Plan and organize the July meetings and prepare budgets based on the draft schedule.