Watershed, Fall 2002
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Piru Creek Could Benefit
from Relicensing of Santa Felicia Dam

Santa Felicia Dam was built on Piru Creek in Ventura County in 1954, creating Lake Piru. At that time, United Water Conservation District (UWCD), which controls the dam, was licensed to build and operate a small electric generating facility having a capacity of about 1420 kilowatts. The generating facility was not actually constructed until 1986.

The license for the project, issued by the Federal Energy Regulating Commission (FERC), will expire in 2004 and must be renewed.

Piru Creek has, in past years before the construction of Santa Felicia Dam, provided spawning habitat for the endangered southern steelhead. The creek also provides a home for other aquatic species such as largemouth bass, arroyo chub and fathead minnow. The area around the lake provides habitat for the endangerd arroyo toad and several endangered songbirds.

In a meeting at UWCD's Santa Paula facility on September 26, 2002, FERC personnel reviewed the relicense application and accepted comments from agencies and other interested parties. In a subsequent letter dated October 7, 2002, FERC outlined schedule requirements for the studies UWCD must do to provide the information required before FERC can act on the relicense application. Final plans for all studies, which include environmental impacts, are to be submitted by February 17, 2003, with work to be completed by early 2004. Mitigation for the project is as yet undefined, but potentially could include provisions for both the southern steelhead and arroyo toad, as well as other species.


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