By Janelle Atyeo
NEWPORT — Now that the weather is warming, field studies have begun for the Sullivan Creek Hydroelectric Project.
Studies will help determine some mitigation measures as the Pend Oreille Public Utility District seeks a special use permit for future operation of the dam at Sullivan Lake. A group in mediation with the PUD has suggested removing the smaller dam at Mill Pond. Doing so would disrupt the sediment that has built up there over the years.
One study is examining the sediment to determine if there are any toxins. The fieldwork is taking place this week, but it could be about a month and a half before results from the chemical analysis are back from the lab.
"We wanted to know more about the make-up of the pond nutrients in the lake before we make a decision.” said Mark Cauchy, PUD director of regulatory and environmental dam.
Seattle City Light’s consultants are performing the studies, with the PUD footing the bill. Biologists have also surveyed surrounding wetlands to determine if they are impacted by Outlet or Sullivan creeks.
Groups will report back on what they’ve found so far at the mediation teams meeting Wednesday and Thursday, May 6 and 7.
This month’s meeting will take place in Newport at the PUD office.
The public is welcome if they are willing to sign an observer agreement, and notify the group ahead of time. The agreement and contact information is available at http://sullivancreek.ecr.gov.
This is the sixth mediated settlement between the PUD, the U.S. Forest Service and a group of federal and state agencies. Mediator Cherie Shanteau-Wheeler from the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution doesn’t see things wrapping up soon, but said they are making progress.
The group is working on a draft plan to better manage the lake for recreation and fish. Members are looking at enhancing the fishery by improving nutrients in the lake, improving fish habitat in Harvey Creek and reducing loss of fish through the dam.
The PUD is going through the permitting process with the Forest Service since the dams are located on the Colville National Forest.
Because the Sullivan project does not produce electricity, the PUD chose not to relicense through the federal process as it did with Box Canyon Dam.