The Roundup -

The Public is Encouraged to Comment on the Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project on or Before Feb. 17

 


On Thursday, January 21st, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation held a public scoping meeting at the Dawson County High School in Glendive, MT to gather public opinion and answer questions about the alternatives being studied as part of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Intake Diversion Dam fish passage project.

The EIS is being developed to better determine how fish passage, especially that of the endangered pallid sturgeon, can be improved with continued viable operation of the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project (LYIP). The LYIP provides water to over 50,000 acres of land from Intake into western North Dakota and is vital to agriculture in the area, with annual gross crop values currently between $25 million and $30 million.

However, the pallid sturgeon, native to the Yellowstone River, struggle to swim in the turbulent waters created by the dam, causing them to spawn below Intake. Newly hatched pallid sturgeon can’t swim for the first 13- 15 days of life and drift downstream; it is believed that they then drift into Lake Sakakawea and die in the lake environment.

Over thirty individuals with the USACE, Department of Omaha, the BOR, and Tetra Tech, a company that has been contracted to develop alternatives and write the EIS, are working on the project. Alternatives include No Action which would mean the continued operation and maintenance of the existing project, permit for rocking, and Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation; the Rock Ramp Alternative which would replace the existing weir with a concrete weir and a shallow-sloped, un-grouted rock ramp. The Bypass Channel Alternative which would construct a bypass channel around the existing weir and divert about 15% of total river flow. The High Flow Channel Alternative which would modify an existing side channel around the current weir to divert river flow. The Pumping Alternative that would include either pumping stations (surface water) or Ranney wells (infiltration galleries) to divert water into the existing irrigation canal and the Non-Weir Alternative which could include pumping, alternative energy sources and conservation. Finally, there will be consideration of other recommended alternatives identified during scoping.

The public is invited and encouraged to comment on the issues and alternatives at hand and may submit comments by mail to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District: Attention CENWO-PM-AA, 1616 Capitol Ave., Omaha, Nebraska 68102 or email comments to cenwo-planning@usace.army.mil. Comments must be postmarked or received via email by February 17, 2016. A draft of the EIS will be complete in May 2016 at which time the BOR will hold another public scoping meeting with another 45-day comment period. The final EIS will be complete in November of 2016.

For additional information, visit the project website at http://www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao/loweryellowstone or contact Tiffany Vanosdall at 402-995-2695 or by email, tiffany.k.vanosdall@usace.army.mil.

 

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