From JANIE SHEPPARD
Tonight there will be a meeting to discuss raising the Coyote Dam. As you have likely noticed, the raised water level has already led to some recreational facilities being under water. As of Tuesday evening these recreational facilities remained under water. Raising the dam will put more recreation facilities under water and so far there is no consideration being given to the users of these facilties. The planners need to hear from us, the land-based users.
A major constraint in relocating land-based recreation is the present boundaries. There simply is not enough room for more water and all the recreation that we have there now, should the dam be raised and the boundaries not extended.
If recreational users (mountain bike riders, hikers, campers, horse people, picnickers, wild flower enthusiasts, and other land-based recreation’ers) are to have a voice and have their concerns addressed, now is the time.
Please come to the meeting tonight: 6 pm, Ukiah Valley Conference Center, 200 S. School Street, Ukiah.
I know this is short notice, but it’s all the notice I had as well. See the UDJ story below.
Water agencies to discuss possible dam raising
Army Corps of Engineers to give update on feasibility study for increasing lake storage
How and when the storage capacity of Lake Mendocino may be increased will be the topic of a meeting tonight hosted by the Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission (IWPC).
“I called an all boards meeting’ so we can get an update from the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) regarding the feasibility study for the Coyote Valley Dam,” said Janet Pauli, chairwoman of the IWPC, adding that the commission is the local sponsor for the study, which is exploring options for increasing the storage capacity of the reservoir, including raising the dam.
Pauli said the study will determine not only if it is economically viable to raise the dam, but if it can physically be raised due to “seismic issues.
“There are issues at the dam regarding adequacy of the spillway,” she continued. “Increasing storage of the lake was authorized by (the U.S.) Congress back in the 1950s, but things have changed since the 1950s (and) studies do have to be done.”
The commission is a joint powers authority whose member agencies include the County of Mendocino, the City of Ukiah, The Russian River Flood Control and Water Improvement District (RRFC&WID), the Redwood Valley County Water District and the Potter Valley Irrigation District.
The member agencies provide half of the funding for the feasibility study, while the USACOE provides the other half, Pauli said.
The board of the RRFC&WID voted last month
to draft a resolution requesting federal dollars to move forward with raising the dam, and planned to gather support for the effort from the numerous cities and water agencies that also benefit from the water stored in the lake.”We hope to demonstrate broad community support,” said Sean White, of the RRFC&WID), explaining that not only do all the cities downstream of the lake – such as Cloverdale, Healdsburg and Santa Rosa – benefit “from a fully functional Lake Mendocino, but even areas such as Marin County. We are hoping to gather as broad a coalition as possible to see if we can’t leverage some money.”
The district’s board agreed to draft a Lake Mendocino Improvement Resolution for consideration at its next meeting.
“Hopefully, we’ll adopt it here, then get other folks to do the same,” said White, adding that the item would be discussed during the meeting tonight.
If the dam is widened and raised, White said the capacity of the lake could be doubled, which would provide the lake a “savings account, instead of having to live paycheck-to-paycheck.
“That would give us multiple years of water supply, instead of a one-year supply,” he added. “Now if it doesn’t rain one year, the next year you’re in trouble.”
White said the district plans to ask Congress for the money to raise the dam, and also seek funding for a separate project related to the lake’s water level – moving some of the recreational facilities for camping and picnicking, much of which has been underwater this summer.
So far, White said “the Corps has been using a process that they have called a feasibility study, to look at the feasibility of raising the dam, but that has been very slow and underfunded. We all know what the issues are – let’s just get this done.”
As for how much the projects will cost, White said “I don’t know that anyone knows, but (raising the dam) will likely cost more than $100 million.” He said there is also no budget for moving of the recreation facilities, but that would cost significantly less.
The lake – technically a reservoir – holds 122,500 acre-feet of water, and the district has 8,000 acre-feet it sells to other districts, cities such as Ukiah, and about 50 major agricultural users. The USACE operates Coyote Dam at the south end of the lake.
Justine Frederiksen can be reached at 468-3521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
What: All Water Boards meeting
When: Tonight, 6 p.m.
Where: Ukiah Valley Conference Center, 200 S. School St.
The public is invited