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Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEISs)

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Merced River and Merced Falls Hydroelectric Projects (P-2179 and P-2467)
Issued: March 30, 2015

Commission staff prepared a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the relicensing of Merced Irrigation Districtís (Merced ID) existing 101.25 megawatt (MW) Merced River Project No. 2179-043, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) existing 3.4-MW Merced Falls Project No. 2467-020. Merced ID used the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) and filed its relicensing application on February 26, 2012. PG&E also used the ILP and filed its relicensing application for the Merced Falls Project on February 8, 2012.

Both projects are located on the Merced River. The Merced River Project is located at river mile (RM) 62.5 and 56.3, respectively, about 23 miles northeast of the city of Merced in Mariposa County, California. The Merced River Project occupies 3,154.9 acres of federal land administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Merced Falls Project is located at RM 55 on the border of Merced and Mariposa Counties, California. The Merced Falls Project occupies 1.0 acre of federal land administered by BLM.

The primary issues associated with relicensing the projects are flow regimes in project-affected reaches for aquatic resources, project effects on physical habitat for aquatic resources, protection of wildlife resources, recreation enhancements, and protection of cultural resources.

In the draft EIS, Commission staff recommended the staff alternative, which consists of measures included in Merced IDís and PG&E's proposals, as well as some of the mandatory conditions and recommendations made by state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations, and some additional measures developed by the staff. The deadline to comment on the draft EIS is May 29, 2015.