WASHINGTON, July 14 -- The U.S. Department of Energy's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the text of the following delegated order:
Portland General Electric Company
Project No. 2195-043
ORDER APPROVING REVISED BLUE-GREEN ALGAE MONITORING PLAN
(Issued July 14, 2014)
1. On June 2, 2014, Portland General Electric Company (licensee) filed a revised Blue-Green Algae Monitoring Plan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission), for the Clackamas River Hydroelectric Project. The licensee filed its original plan pursuant to Ordering Paragraph E, Appendix A, Article 5 and Ordering Paragraph F, Appendix B, Article 12(b) of the project license. The original plan was approved by Commission order dated September 9, 2011. On July 18, 2014, the Commission approved the licensee's May 1, 2013 request to amend the plan. The project consists of the North Fork, Faraday, River Mill, and Oak Grove developments located on the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River and the mainstem of the Clackamas River in Clackamas County, Oregon.
2. The licensee's current filing requests a second revision to its plan. The licensee states that it concluded a three year investigation of blue-green algae bloom formation dynamics in 2013. The licensee conducted the study in order to understand bloom forming conditions in Timothy Lake and North Fork Reservoir and any relationship they may have with project operations.
3. The licensee's study determined that bloom formations appear to be related to weak stratification, moderate temperatures and moderate mixing of waters throughout the water column in the reservoirs. The licensee's study revealed that bloom formations appear to coincide with periods of high hydraulic residence times or low flow conditions that enable blue-green algae species to propagate. Since the project is required to operate as a run-of-river facility, and as such, retention times of water in the reservoir are dependent upon inflow, the licensee's study determined that no apparent relationship between bloom formations and project operations exist under the existing operational requirements of the project license.
4. As a result of the study findings, the licensee proposes to discontinue the investigation of bloom forming dynamics in Timothy Lake and North Fork Reservoir. The licensee states that it would continue to monitor blue-green algae blooms as they relate to public health and safety, and taste and odor in public water supply as required by the project license. The licensee's revised plan proposes clarifications to sampling protocols and timing as they relate to public health and recreation advisories and taste and odor complaint response. These revisions would not significantly change the plan, but provide clarification of its implementation.
5. The results of the licensee's study of blue-green algae bloom formation dynamics and the proposed revisions to its plan were discussed with the Blue-Green Team at a meeting on March 10, 2014. By email dated April 15, 2014, the licensee presented the proposed revisions and updated plan to the members of the Blue-Green Team for review and comment. Comments on the plan were received from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Forest Service, and Clackamas Water Providers (CWP). Comments generally pertained to the methods and timing of sample collection for blue-green algae cell count monitoring and algal toxin sampling that are implemented for public health and safety and taste and odor in drinking water.
6. The licensee accepted the comments and incorporated most of the comments into the plan except for a recommendation received from CWP related to the lifting of recreational advisories when algal toxin levels fall below the recreation advisory action level. The licensee's response stated that doing so would contradict the Oregon Health Authority rational to continue to collect cell count samples after toxin levels have fallen below advisory levels to ensure that there is minimal potential for release of algal toxins. Therefore, the licensee did not incorporate the recommendation into the plan. On May 27, 2014, the licensee received an email from the ODEQ approving its revised plan.
7. Commission staff agrees that the licensee's decision to not incorporate the CWP comment regarding lifting of recreational advisories is correct. The licensee should continue to sample cell counts after algal toxin levels have fallen below the recreational advisory action level, to ensure public safety and to remain consistent with the Oregon Health Authority rational.
8. The licensee's revised plan proposes to discontinue the study of blue-green algae bloom formation dynamics in Timothy Lake and North Fork Reservoir as previously required. The studies conducted by the licensee from 2011 to 2013, indicate that there is no predictable relationship between blue-green algae blooms and project operations in the run-of-river mode. Additional revisions to the plan also provide clarifications to the previously approved plan and should assist in its future implementation. The licensee's proposed revisions to its Blue-Green Algae Monitoring Plan are reasonable and therefore, should be approved.
The Director orders:
(A) Portland General Electric Company's revised Blue-Green Algae Monitoring Plan, filed on June 2, 2014, for the Clackamas River Hydroelectric Project, is approved.
(B) This order constitutes final agency action. Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30 days from the date of its issuance, as provided in section 313(a) of the FPA, 16 U.S.C. section 825l (2012), and the Commission's regulations at 18 C.F.R. section 385.713 (2013). The filing of a request for rehearing does not operate as a stay of the effective date of this order, or of any other date specified in this order. The licensee's failure to file a request for rehearing shall constitute acceptance of this order.
Thomas J. LoVullo
Chief, Aquatic Resources Branch
Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance
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