“One of the great rivers of the Sierra Nevada, the Bear River supports Native American culture, fish and wildlife and community recreation. Much of the watershed has been dammed and developed for water supply and energy production, making the few remaining free-flowing stretches of the Bear River all the more valuable,” according to American Rivers’ new report “America’s Most Endangered Rivers 2017.” “But now, one of these last free-flowing reaches is threatened by the proposed 275-foot tall Centennial Dam. Instead of rushing to build an expensive, damaging and unnecessary new dam, Nevada Irrigation District must consider other water supply solutions, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must fully analyze alternatives at a critical time for water planning in California.”
“Much of the Bear River has been altered over the last 200 years, primarily by gold mining and dam building. The Bear is already impounded behind eight dams, leaving only a few free-flowing sections in the middle and upper reaches of the river. The undammed portions of the river are vital for local communities, including the native Nisenan tribe.
“Today, the Bear River is threatened by the development of Centennial Dam— a 275-foot tall structure proposed by Nevada Irrigation District (NID). NID claims that additional water storage is needed to meet future demand and replace snowpack storage that will be lost due to climate change. However, NID has not demonstrated that it is following best practices for water conservation and efficiency, or that the water to fill this new reservoir will be available to communities in the Bear River watershed under predicted future climate conditions. Further, the project’s massive costs (which NID currently estimates to be $500 million to $1 billion) would undermine more effective climate change management strategies, such as water use efficiency and optimizing existing systems. Centennial Dam is a costly and damaging project that may never be able to meet its stated goals, and less damaging alternatives exist to meet future demand.
“Centennial Dam would flood the last six miles of publicly accessible free-flowing river, including popular recreation sites and numerous native Nisenan village sites and burial grounds. The dam would also flood 2,200 acres of mature riparian and oak woodland, destroy habitat for many sensitive species and pose a serious threat to vulnerable fish populations by reducing flows downstream. In addition, the project will appreciably reduce seasonal flows critical to the Feather and Sacramento Rivers, the Delta and San Francisco Bay.”
The link “To Take Action” is here.