Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

Tag Archives: Water Rights

National Forest Service Concerns Regarding the Cat Creek Energy Project

This “Bull Trout Country” sign is located just 5 miles west of the proposed Cat Creek Energy project lands.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and The National Forest Service commented about the concerns they have about the Generation Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, P-14655 portion of the Cat Creek Energy project back in October 2015. Those concerns have yet to be addressed as of late-March 2019.

A letter dated October 25, 2015, from Kimberly D. Bose from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) highlights their concerns that Cat Creek Energy needs to act in a timely manner and in good faith before they will issue a temporary permit to begin some very critical studies within the Elmore County backcountry. Their main area of concern is the South Fork of the Boise River basin and the Little Camas Prairie located about 18 miles northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho.

Reference: Page 4 and 5 of “FERC-COMMENTS of U.S. Forest Service on Cat Creek Energy Generation Pumped Storage“ document. Please feel free to download the 25 Oct 2015 letter by clicking HERE FERC-COMMENTS of U.S. Forest Service on Cat Creek Energy Generation Pumped Storage … or https://catcreek-energy.com/download/964/

 

Here is Just a Part of the National Forest Service / FERC Concerns

Fisheries Resources

The Anderson Ranch Reservoir fisheries resource consists of rainbow trout, bull trout, whitefish, chinook salmon, kokanee salmon and smallmouth bass. South Fork Boise River below Anderson Ranch Reservoir is a Blue Ribbon fishery consisting of rainbow trout, bull trout, mountain whitefish, and sculpin.

  • Threatened, Endangered and Sensitive Species (TES) and critical habitat
    Endangered Species Act

  • Bull trout are listed as a threatened species (63 FR 31647 31674) under the
    Endangered Species Act.

  • Anderson Ranch Reservoir up to full pool is designated critical habitat (75 FR
    63898 64070) under the Endangered Species Act.

  • South Fork Boise River below Anderson Ranch Reservoir is designated critical habitat (75 FR 63898 64070) under the Endangered Species Act.


Concerns

  • Entrainment – bull trout and other species could be entrained when pumping
    water up to the holding basin.

  • Temperature – Increase in water temperature to Anderson Ranch Reservoir or the South Fork Boise River depending on the alternative considered and where water is released. The newly constructed dam would be a shallow reservoir and water temperatures would increase rapidly through solar radiation during hot summer months. An increase in water temperature could impact bull trout and could have effects on other fish resources within the reservoir.

  • Sediment – Increase in sediment from construction, maintenance and operation of hydroelectric facilities and associated power lines.

  • Supersaturation –  Supersaturation occurs when air becomes trapped in water
    spilled over a dam as it hits the pool below. If too much nitrogen is absorbed in the bloodstream of fish, air bubbles form and create the equivalent of what dives call “the bends” and fish die.

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/
or
See https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

Thanks.

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Coming: Cat Creek Energy News in Abundance

Even the Idaho Department of Transportation knows there is a critical deer and elk migration corridor running right through the middle of the planned Cat Creek Energy project landscape.

Photo taken on Jan. 20, 2019 and geotagged at https://goo.gl/maps/FS2sEdcDudM2

In the past few months, a lot of news and information has surfaced about the ill-advised Cat Creek Energy project that is scheduled to be built just 20 miles northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho.

What Issues?

  • There are water issues to discuss.
  • There are wildlife issues to discuss.
  • There are political issues to discuss.
  • There are State of Idaho issues to discuss.
  • There are federal regulations and guidance to discuss.
  • There are Elmore County Commissioner issues to discuss.

In the coming days and weeks, these issues will be brought to light on this website and our S Bar Ranch Facebook Page.

Our hopes are that you will read what we have to say and then do your own research. We’re very confident you will find that the 5,750 acre Cat Creek Energy project will be a boondoggle for the residents of Elmore County and our emerging tourism industry.

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Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement with Elmore County Gets its First Amendment

During the Dec. 14, 2018 public hearing.

Spoiler Alert: The county commissioners agreed to give Cat Creek Energy, LLC more time to renegotiate certain water issues at the Dec. 14, 2018 public hearing.

The Hearing

In a nutshell, this is what happened at this 30-minute public hearing. The first amendment of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County in regards to the mega-energy project slated for our backcountry was approved during a public hearing and deliberations on December 14, 2018.

The approved amendment, however, was merely to give the county and the Gooding-based corporation extra time to negotiate the Water Diversion and Delivery Agreements portion of a joint development agreement. The original date to hammer out the details was December 31, 2018. The new date to agree on those water issues is now officially, June 30, 2019.

If the county and Cat Creek Energy cannot come to an agreement by June 30, 2019, the conditional use permits (CUP 2015-04) will lapse.

There were four individuals who testified against giving Cat Creek Energy additional time to hammer out the agreement and one individual who was neither for nor against the amendment. The interesting thing to know and understand is, Cat Creek Energy did not publicly testify at this meeting. There was one Cat Creek lawyer in attendance and she did not give us any reason for why they require more time. That could be important.

FYI: CUP-2015-04 deals with the proposed Cat Creek Reservoir and its Pump Storage Hydro-electrical Generating Facility.

Reference:

More to Come

Expect a follow-on post regarding this issue where we will discuss some of our thoughts about what happened and what didn’t happen at this and other related public hearings.

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Did You Know – New Water Right Elmore County ‘v’ Cat Creek Energy

  • Did you know the water right Cat Creek Energy wants to use for the pump-storage hydroelectric plant portion of the mega-energy project in the backcounty of Elmore County hasn’t even been created or permitted yet? It’s a proposed water right.
  • Did you know the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County has been said to be so complex that both parties wanted delays before agreeing to the water delivery portion for 10 months so they could sort out all the complexities?
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy is asking for more time to sort out all the problems with the complex water delivery agreement?
  • Did you know that Elmore County also applied for the same proposed water right from the South Fork of the Boise River/Anderson Ranch Reservoir? Cat Creek Energy is in competition for the same water that Elmore County is asking IDWR for.
  • Did you know the United States Forest Service has concerns about Cat Creek Energy siphoning water out of Anderson Ranch Reservoir?
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy would control any flow of water from their proposed and far-from-federally-or-state approved Cat Creek Reservoir on Little Camas Prairie to points downstream into the Mountain Home area?
  • Did you know that the proposed Cat Creek Energy owned reservoir would sit on the edge of the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir? Who builds a reservoir 800 feet above a pristine body water and doesn’t expect something to go wrong.
  • Did you know Cat Creek Energy would also use that reservoir for their partner’s cattle ranching and farming operations?
  • Did you know that for the past two summers (2017 and 2018) Little Camas Reservoir has a toxic blue-green algae health advisory issued for that body of water? In addition, the proposed Cat Creek Reservoir will be interconnected to both Anderson Reservoir and Little Camas Reservoir increasing the likelihood of blue-green algae contamination in Anderson Ranch Reservoir?

 

What Can You Do?

Call or write a letter to the Elmore County Commissioners with a delivery date on or before Dec. 14, 2018 stating why you oppose the amendments to the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County.

Phone: Commissioner Wes Wootan (208)599-3131  and/or Commissioner Bud Corbus: (208) 599-1294

Write:
Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
520 East 2nd South Street 
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

Attend the 1:30 p.m. public hearing on Dec. 14, 2018.

More information about the hearing, phone numbers and mailing address can be found at http://catcreek-energy.com/event-cat-creek-energy-public-hearing-for-amending-the-development-agreement-with-elmore-county/

Spread the word about the Dec. 14, 2018 meeting. At least one county commissioners believe that because very few people attend these hearing the issues aren’t important to the residents of Elmore County.

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The Amendable Portion of the Current Development Agreement (Partial Dev Agreement Only)

With a public hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on December 14, 2018, in the Elmore County Courthouse regarding the possible amendment to the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy, LLC and Elmore County coming up soon, we thought you might like to see both proposed amendments and the current document.

The full Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy, LLC, and Elmore County can be viewed and downloaded here …  CCE_Development Agreement (9-Feb-2018)-10673026_1. or at the direct link to that 37 page document at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/463/

A Snippet of the Development Agreement

DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT RELATIVE TO CAT CREEK ENERGY, LLC
CONDITIONAL USE PERMITS (CUP 2015-03, CUP 2015-04, CUP 2015-05, CUP 2015-
06, CUP 2015-07)

This Development Agreement Relative to Cat Creek Energy, LLC Conditional Use Permits
(CUP 2015-03, CUP 2015-04, CUP 2015-05, CUP 2015-06, CUP 2015-07) (the “Agreement”) is
entered into this 9th day of February 2018, (“Effective Date”), by and between
Elmore County (the “County”), a political subdivision of the State of Idaho, and Cat Creek Energy,
LLC, an Idaho limited liability company (the “Developer”) (collectively, the “Parties”).

WITNESSETH:

NOTE: WITNESSTH portion of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County was not included (redacted) in this post because it is not pertinent to the December 14, 2018, public hearing.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises, covenants, and provisions set forth
herein, the Parties agree as follows:

AGREEMENT
SECTION 1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT.

NOTE: Section 1 of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County was not included (redacted) in this post because it is not pertinent to the December 14, 2018, public hearing.

SECTION 2. REQUIRED ENCLOSURES FROM CONDITION NUMBER TWO.

NOTE: Section 2.1 of the development agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County was not included (redacted) in this post because it is not pertinent to the December 14, 2018, public hearing.


(Current) 2.2. Water Diversion and Delivery. Given the complexities of water diversion and
delivery related to the Project, and in an effort to move the Project forward without further delay,
the County and Developer have agreed to defer the negotiation and execution of all Water
Diversion and Delivery Agreements to a later date, to be heard after notice and public hearing, but
which shall be done prior to December 31, 2018, or the CUP related to water shall lapse.


There are two proposed amendments to section 2.2 of the Development Agreement

Option #1 (Blue Document)

The Parties hereby agree to replace Section 2.2 of the Development Agreement with the
following:

2.2 Water Diversion and Delivery.
          (a) The Developer shall divert and deliver water at a rate of up to 200 cubic feet per
second (cfs) to the County under its water right, in priority, on a continuous flow basis, from
the South Fork Boise River to Little Camas Reservoir by use of Developer’s infrastructure, as
long as (1) the water can be accepted into Little Camas Reservoir, as determined by the
Mountain Home Irrigation District, in its sole discretion; and (2) the water diversion and
delivery does not prevent the Developer from performing its ordinary water operations, which
term is defined as generating electricity via hydro-power or performing ordinary maintenance
of its hydro-power infrastructure and (3) Cat Creek Reservoir stored water is at least 20,000
acre feet. Developer’s duty to divert and deliver water to the County shall be suspended
during any emergency conditions that may exist outside of the Developer’s control. The
Developer agrees to use commercially reasonable efforts not to schedule maintenance work
during the anticipated water diversion and delivery time periods for the County.

          (b) For those years when the County elects to take water delivery under Section 2.2 (a)
above, charges for water diversion and delivery shall be billed to the County based on the
Developer’s actual cost of electricity for pumping the quantity of water diverted and delivered
to the County under its water right. Billing invoices from the Developer shall specify the total
amount of water pumped, diverted and discharged to the Anderson Ranch Reservoir by the
Developer and the total amount of water diverted and delivered into Little Camas Reservoir for
the benefit of the County for the twelve (12) month period in which the County takes water
delivery. The Developer shall invoice the County within ninety (90) days from the end of
water delivery to the County for that water delivery period and provide copies of its electricity
cost and its water diversion records to the County with the annual invoicing. Payment by the
County shall be due and payable thirty (30) days after receipt of the annual invoicing.

(c) The Developer consents to use of its diversion point for diversion of water under the
County’s water right.

(d) The County will inform the Developer, or its designated agent, no less than twenty-four
(24) hours prior to any County request for diversion and delivery of water under its water
right. Provided, however, the County shall be under no obligation to request diversion or
delivery of any water, or accept any water, and any County request for water diversion or
delivery shall be in the County’s sole discretion.

(e) The Developer has withdrawn its pending protest at the Idaho Department of Water
Resources against the County’s application for water permit no. 63-34348. The County has
withdrawn its protest against Developer’s water right application No. 63-34403 filed with the
Idaho Department of Water Resources.

(f) The Developer, the Landowners, the County, and their agents, consultants, and
employees shall act in good faith regarding the County and Developer’s pursuit of a water
permit and license under their respective applications, pending before the Idaho Department of
Water Resources, and shall also act in good faith regarding the County and Developer’s
relationship with the Mountain Home Irrigation District.

(g) Notwithstanding anything in the Development Agreement to the contrary, the
County’s obligations to pay for electricity for pumping expense under Section 2.2(b) of the
Amendment in connection with the diversion and delivery of water by the Developer to the
County under Section 2.2(a), shall be subject to and dependent upon the appropriations
being made in the fiscal year for the diversion and delivery of water by the Elmore County
Board of Commissioners for such purpose.

ALL OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT SHALL REMAIN
IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT.


Option #2 (Orange Document)

The Parties hereby agree to replace Section 2.2 of the Development Agreement with the following:

“2.2. Water Storage and Delivery. Given the complexities of water diversion and delivery related to the Project, and in an effort to move the Project forward without further delay, the County and Developer have agreed to defer the negotiation and execution of all Water Diversion and Delivery Agreements to a later date, to be heard after notice and public hearing, but which shall be done prior to June 30, 2019, or the CUP related to water (CUP 2015-04) shall lapse.”

ALL OTHER PROVISIONS OF THE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT SHALL REMAIN IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT.


Take Action / What Can You Do

  • Call or write a letter to the Elmore County Commissioners with a delivery date on or before Dec. 14, 2018 stating why you oppose the amendments shown above.
    Commissioner Wes Wootan (208)599-3131 Commissioner Bud Corbus: (208) 599-1294
    Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
    520 East 2nd South Street
    Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647
  • Attend the 1:30 p.m. public hearing on Dec. 14, 2018.
  • More information about the hearing, phone numbers and mailing address can be found at http://catcreek-energy.com/event-cat-creek-energy-public-hearing-for-amending-the-development-agreement-with-elmore-county/
  • Spread the word about the Dec. 14, 2018 meeting. At least one county commissioners believe that because very few people attend these hearing the issues aren’t important to the residents of Elmore County. If you are viewing this on a computer, there is a Facebook Share button just below this post.
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EVENT: Cat Creek Energy Public Hearing for Amending the Development Agreement with Elmore County

 

What It’s About?

Can you attend the public hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2018, at the Elmore County Courthouse regarding the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and “the people”?

The Elmore County Commissioners will accept public testimony regarding the possibility of giving Cat Creek Energy full control of a new domestic water source from the South Fork of the Boise River and Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

We don’t believe handing a Gooding County-based corporation the authority, responsibility, and control over Elmore County’s domestic drinking water is a good idea.

Documentation Regarding This Public Hearing

Currently, there are three documents directly related to this December 14, 201,8 public hearing. You can and should download/read the following.

#1. The Public Hearing Notice: “Dec 14, 2018, Public Hearing Notice – Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement” that can be viewed or downloaded HERE Dec 14, 2018 Public Hearing Notice - Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement or at the direct link found at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/731/

#2. Option #1 (blue document) First Amendment to Development Agreement – 14 Dec 2018 Hearing: It can be viewed or downloaded HERE OPTION #1-First Amendment to Development Agreement - For the Dec. 14, 2018 Hearing or at the direct link found at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/755/

#3. Option #2 (orange document) First Amendment to Development Agreement – 14 Dec 2018 Hearing can be viewed or downloaded HERE OPTION #2-First Amendment to Development Agreement - For the Dec. 14, 2018 Hearing or at the direct link found at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/758/

 

When and Where

1:30 p.m. On Friday, December 14, 2018, at the Elmore County Courthouse in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Address: 150 South 4 East, Mountain Home, ID 83647

Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/W1vikDroruw

 

Take Action

We believe it is important the residents of Elmore County and anyone who loves our backcountry for it’s abundant recreational opportunities to tell the county commissioners you are opposed to the entire Cat Creek Energy project and you oppose the idea of allowing this corporation to control our future domestic water delivery system.

If you cannot attend this public hearing please call the two Elmore County Commissioners who will make the decision whether to allow the Cat Creek Energy project to move forward.

Commissioner Wes Wootan (208)599-3131

Commissioner Bud Corbus: (208) 599-1294

FYI: Commissioner Hofer has been recused from any decision making authority on the Cat Creek Energy project.

Anyone who wishes to testify, but is unable to attend the 1:30 p.m., Friday, December 14, 2018, hearing, may submit written testimony prior to the hearing by sending it to the:

Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
520 East 2nd South Street
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

An easy way to further help us is to share this post with your family, friends and co-workers.

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Why Did Cat Creek Energy Decide to Unlink the Project Permits?

All five conditional use permits need to be approved to make the Cat Creek Energy project financially viable.” – Creek Creek Energy Spokesman in 2016

Throughout the permitting process, almost every Cat Creek Energy spokesman testified that all five parts of the project needed to be approved or they couldn’t move forward. The permitting process started in 2015 and ended in 2018.

What We Heard:

They’ll never get federal approval for the power lines in sage grouse territory or water rights for their proposed Cat Creek Reservoir.” – Many people who attended the 2016 and 2017 CUP approval hearings.

 

In 2018, after the Elmore County Commissioners surprisingly approved the five conditional use permits, Cat Creek Energy decided the project really might be financially viable with only a portion (huge wind farm or 590-acre solar plant) getting built out. It’s almost like Cat Creek Energy intended to pull the wool over our eyes while getting the county to approve their mega energy project.

 

Water Rights Problem

Cat Creek Energy has run into significant headwinds in obtaining water rights for their proposed reservoir on Little Camas Prairie. About 20 different private and governmental entities filed separate objections and protests to Cat Creek Energy’s water right permit application they filed with the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR). Elmore County “was” one of those entities that objected to Cat Creek getting their hands on Anderson Ranch Reservoir water.

It’s Unacceptable

We find it suspicious that Cat Creek Energy LLC suddenly found financial viability in a piecemeal approach to their mega-energy complex after the commissioners approved the project and years of saying the CUPs needed to be linked.

We find it wholly unacceptable that Elmore County would allow the project to move forward knowing that the Gooding County-based corporation likely knew they’d never get federal approval for the “pump storage hydro” portion of the project and likely will never get the water rights from Anderson Ranch Reservoir either.

We expect the Elmore County Commissioners to postpone any further approvals of the Cat Creek Energy project until the conditional use permits are once again linked together.

Why? Many residents believed the project would never be able to move forward as a complete project and stopped testifying and paying attention. We’re still paying attention, however.

Reference: Elmore County, Idaho Conditional Use Permits for the Cat Creek Energy Project.

  • CUP-2015-03 / Transmission Lines
  • CUP-2015-04 / Pump Storage Hydro- Electrical Generating Facility
  • CUP-2015-05 / Solar – Electrical Generating Facility)
  • CUP-2015-06 / Wind – Electrical Generating Facility)
  • CUP-2015-07 / Electrical Substation

 

Take Action: Write a letter to the Elmore County Commissioners.

  • Tell them the Cat Creek Energy Project is bad for Elmore County’s big game herds.
  • Tell them Elmore County needs to control our own destiny when it comes to “domestic water issues.”
  • Tell them to relink all five Conditional Use Permits like was originally agreed upon.
  • Tell them our tourism industry will never get established with an industrialized energy complex in our wild and scenic backcountry.

 

Address your letter to:

Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
ATTN: Cat Creek Energy Project
520 East 2nd South Street
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

 

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