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Baker Dams Issues
10/19/1927 The Influence Of A Power Dam In Modifying Conditions Affecting The Migration Of The Salmon, by Dr. Henry B. Ward, University of Illinois This document was retrieved from the University of Illinois.  Dr. Henry B. Ward first came to Skagit County in 1925.  "Dr. Henry B. Ward, professor of zoology at the University of Illinois and who is known as the leading authority in the United States on the sockeye salmon is spending several weeks in this city and at Baker lake is trying to study out some feasible means of getting the salmon past the power dam of the Stone & Webster company on the Baker river to the spawning grounds at Baker lake, and of getting the small salmon fry from the government hatchery at the lake down the Baker on their way to salt water."  (See 7/29/25 C.H.)  This is one of the first salmon studies ever performed in Skagit County.

Letter to Puget Power from Corps of Engineers

Corps of Engineers felt flood control storage in Lake Shannon was "worthwhile" looking into.  Methods suggested was to either raise Lower Baker or to lower lake level.  Important to remember is that Upper Baker Dam was not constructed until 1959.
1954 An Investigation of the Effect of Baker Dam on Downstream-Migrant Salmon - Full Report

The conclusions reached in this report show that “95% of the migrants leaving the reservoir used the surface spillway as their exit route and that less than 5% left through the turbine intake.”  Further the report concludes that In considering the rates of return of marked sockeye it is quite evident that the spillway fish suffered a higher mortality than the tunnel fish and that both suffered a higher mortality than the river releases” and “64% of the native Sockeye and 54% of the native Coho were killed in passing down the spillway.”

2/3/1961 USACE Seattle District  Plan of Survey Skagit River Flood Control Study  With regulation at Ross and Upper Baker Dams, a 150,000 cfs flow at SW has a frequency of about 25 years. ... Flows of 210,000 cfs at SW have frequencies of about 200 years under existing conditions.  (NOTE:  REMEMBER THIS IS BEFORE ADDITIONAL STORAGE BEHIND UPPER BAKER.) ... damages from flows of this magnitude would total about $6,600,000.  ...  objective of this study is to find the most economically feasible solutions.
See also: Public Hearing on Flood Control for the Skagit River Basin, 8 February 1961
2/8/1961 Summary of Public Hearing on Flood Control The Bypass project was favored by the Dept of Game and Fisheries because it would have no effect on the existing Skagit River fishery resources.”
2/8/1961 Public Hearing on Flood Control for the Skagit River Basin, 8 February 1961

“I am particularly interested in securing information on the nature and scope of the flood control improvements desired; the problems and difficulties encountered under the present conditions, and the proposed developments which would utilize the desired improvements that you would suggest.” (Col. Young, US Army Corps of Engineers)


USACOE Avon Bypass Reactivation Report

Unregulated 100yr fld 250,000 to 300,000 cfs (pg 2); The 35-year level of flood protection provided by the Avon Bypass with levee and channel improvements would protect against 79 percent of average annual flood damages under present conditions.  These flood damages are 75 percent agricultural and only 25 percent urban.  Therefore, the project is now required essentially for the protection of agricultural lands, and the 35-year level of protection is well suited to present development.  . . .  The semi-pervious foundation conditions preclude any general raising of levees without extensive broadening of the levee sections, construction of cutoffs to reduce seepage, and relocation of the road systems adjacent to the levee system. (pg 4)  To achieve the same results as the Bypass and levee improvements, the channel would have to be widened from 300 to 600 feet from the downstream limits of Sedro Woolley to the mouth of the river, a distance of over 20 miles.  (pg 6)  ... At Mt. Vernon the 1932 flood of 140,000 c.f.s. has a 12-year frequency; the 1921 flood of 182,000 c.f.s. has a 30-year frequency; and a flood of 245,000 c.f.s, would have a 100-year frequency.  ... 278,000 at SW (Table 2)
7/9/1965 Series of MFRs & Letters Mostly Addressing 8 Possible Dam Sites and Impacts of Wild and Scenic River Act 7/9/65 8 sites were Cascade River, Lower Suiattle River; Upper Suiattle River; Upper Sauk River; Lower Sauk River; Cooper Creek; Thunder Creek; and Faber site (on Skagit about 6 miles upstream from Baker River).  7/1/65  "A decision to commit a portion o the river basin to a Wild (and Scenic) River category appears premature at this time.  6/18/65 "One hundred year flood protection is vitally necessary for continued progress in Skagit county. 6/29/65 The purpose of this meeting was to inform Seattle Light representatives of our proposed upstream storage studies in the Skagit River basin, determine sites at which City Light has made studies, and obtain data on power studies made by the city. 4/7/65  Ltr fm private engineering company to Corps re Cape Horn.
See also: 8/12/1965 DF re Skagit River Upstream Storage Geologic Reconnaissance

DF re Skagit River Upstream Storage Geologic Reconnaissance

"This report covers certain geologic phases of upstream storage -sites as viewed on a 5-day reconnaissance by Messrs. A. S. Cary, F&M Branch and W. R. McKinley, Project Planning Branch, into the Skagit drainage area."  . . . The Skagit Valley far upstream has a depth of fill near 500 feet and if the rock floors of the Sauk and Skagit are concordant, the depth is well below sea level."
See also: 7/9/1965 Series of MFRs & Letters Mostly Addressing 8 Possible Dam Sites and Impacts of Wild and Scenic River Act

MFR re: Corps Investigation of Existing Baker Sites

Corps approximates that Baker River dams could not provide 100 yr protection.  Would require 90,000 acre feet to control 200,000 cfs flow.  However, could control 50 yr flood (180,000 cfs) by providing 50,000 acre feet of storage.  Would require considerable study to determine power loss.

Corps Memorandum re Lower Baker River Storage Projects

Corps admits investigation into Lower Baker dam storage has only been "on a very preliminary basis".  Gross storage capacity of Lake Shannon 160,000 acre feet.  142,400 ac ft being used for power production.  Upper Baker dam gross storage is 298,000 ac ft and utilizes 220,000 ac ft for power production.  Important to note is that at this time only Upper Baker provided 16,000 ac ft of storage however both dams had major impacts on flood flows.  Corps recognizes that 28,500 ac ft of storage was available behind Lower Baker in Lake Shannon for flood control.  Flood prevention benefits would far exceed the cost of power reductions.

Corps Memorandum re Preliminary Report on Baker River Regulation

Corps investigated 3 scenarios.  1-drafting Upper Baker to 720.6 ft to provide 16,000 ac ft of storage.  2-drafting Upper Baker to 709.8 ft to provide additional 50,000 ac ft of storage (current requirement 707.9 by Nov. 15th).  3-drafting Upper Baker to 701.3 to provide additional 84,000 ac ft of storage.  In all 3 scenarios Lower Baker was kept at elev. 437 which is 1 1/2 ft below being full.  "In all cases, with the exception of 2 years in #3, Upper Baker could refill by the end of April."
6/21/1967 MFR RE: "Field Visit" During High Flows Due To Snow Melt Concrete 70,000 cfs, Mt. Vernon 77,000 cfs.  People in Sedro Woolley wanted dam on the Sauk.  Nookachamp area was inundated by backwater from the main river.  "...residential homes that have been constructed in the flood plains from Sedro Woolley to Marblemount should have added consideration for flood control."
7/18/1967 MFR RE: Baker River storage "...if an exchange of power storage for flood control use is economically feasible now, it should be even more favorable in the future."
8/25/1967 DRAFT Resolution from WRAC to County Commissioners Purpose of FCZD was to raise taxes for flood control activities.  Agreed to comp plan (attached) that would raise levees to 8 year protection to include "fuse plugs" to eliminate critical levee failures.  In addition, a program of public information and control of the flood plain will be adopted to insure that developments are controlled and a false sense of security does not exist.
10/9/1968 Corps MFR re mtg with Skagit County Planning Dept. re Avon Bypass "... both the Avon Bypass Project and the Levee and Channel Improvement Project are authorized for construction, but due to a lack of local sponsorship, are not being constructed."  . . . : "a change in operations at the upper Baker Power Dam could provide additional justified flood protection in addition to the two projects already authorized.
3/1975 Public Brochure re Additional Flood Control at Upper Baker Project

Dept. Ecol. = State Department of Ecology
EPA = Environmental Protection Agency
PNWWA = Pacific Northwest Waterways Association
SWCD = Soil & Water Conservation District
Sierra = Sierra Club

A comprehensive plan, completed in 1971, called for increasing Skagit River flood control through use of reservoir capacity provided by Puget Sound Power and Light Company's Upper Baker hydroelectric power project in addition to the 16,000 acre-feet of storage space now available during the winter flood season. The detailed feasibility investigation being completed by the Corps of Engineers was in follow-up to the comprehensive study and undertaken under the same authority.  . . .  Land use zoning, development restrictions, flood proofing and early flood warning are flood plain management elements of this alternative which would be continued by Skagit County and the State of Washington.  . . . Baker Lake would be lowered to provide a total of 74,000 acre-feet of flood control storage between 15 November and 1 March each year.  . . .  Although increased flood control capability has the potential of creating increased development pressure on flood plain lands, especially those close to urban areas and those now protected by dikes and levees, this pressure is expected to be minimal.  . . . However, the application of stringent flood plain management techniques and flood plain zoning by Skagit County, as called for in the recommended plan, should reduce the likelihood and severity of such losses.  . . . The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service late in the study asked that flood control drawdown occur earlier than necessary for flood control in order to benefit Baker Lake salmon production.  This earlier drawdown would increase power losses and, therefore, would have to be justified by fishery enhancement benefits. No current provision exists in the FPC license for such a project operation change.  Because of this and the lack of data on fish production, the Corps study did not evaluate the early drawdown proposal.  . . .  Detailed engineering, economic and environmental impact studies were conducted over the past 2 years . . . Land use. The increased flood protection provided by this alternative (additional 58,000 ac ft storage) would not be sufficient to allow relaxation of current restrictions on intensive developments in flood hazard areas. Therefore, no effect on land use is expected.


False sense of security. Encourages development of flood plain for uses incompatible with flooding.  (Sierra) Would create a false sense of security which could induce continued building in floodprone areas. (R. Hammond, SWCD)  . . .  Not enough protection. Only corrects about 8 percent of the total flood damage of the basin. (Dept. Ecol.) Watershed above Upper Baker includes less than 7 percent of area of the Skagit at Mt. Vernon and about 10 percent of runoff volume. This degree of control would be small under severe conditions.  (SWCD)  . . .  Storage will increase. The additional flood storage could make the difference between the (a) disaster or high river stage. (PNWWA) Additional flood storage at Upper Baker will not adversely affect the environmental values of Skagit Valley. (EPA) It is only a start on the overall control program for Skagit, and its benefits will more than justify the costs.  (SWCD)

7/17/1975 Series of letters re Congressman Meeds inquiry re changes in the deferred to active project list. Congressman used recycled paper for his stationary.  BCC wanted to activate the 1966 Levee and Channel Improvement project; achieve additional storage behind Baker Dam; have a study done on the feasibility of the Sauk River Dam; agreed that if Sauk not feasible then would look at Avon Bypass.  "We, as a Board, know that we are sitting on a "Time Bomb" in the Skagit Valley.

Corps draft letter to Rep. Meeds re Flood Control Projects

Corps recommended additional 58,000 ac ft of storage.  Trade offs of power generation for flood control are economically and environmentally feasible.
8/14/1975 Ltr to Corps fm George Dynes of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association re recommendations for Skagit Flood Control Committee recommended Skagit River Levees, Upper Baker Dam project and; a study on the Sauk River dam.
9/10/1975 Corps response ltr to 8/14/1975 Seattle District Recommended Additional Flood Control Storage At Upper Baker.  Also working on correspondence to reclassification of levee project from "deferred to active."  Further action on the Sauk study lies with the congressional delegation.
10/16/1975 Corps internal communication re "Reclassification of Authorized Skagit River, WA, Levee and Channel Improvement Project "The subject project (authorized in 1966) would provide flood protection to some 68,000 acres of delta flood plain at the mouth of the river. The improvements would increase the level of protection from once in 3 to 10 years, to a minimum of once in 8 years.  The authorization report noted that if the levee improvements were constructed- with the Avon Bypass, protection would be accomplished for floods with an expected recurrence of once in 35 years. To avoid a false sense of flood security, the report concluded that the levee and channel improvements should be constructed as an integral part of a basin plan for flood control, which as a minimum should include provision for construction of Avon Bypass project or upstream storage."
10/29/1975 Corps "FACT SHEET" on Skagit River Basin Document looked at Upper Baker Storage; Levee and Channel Improvement; Avon Bypass; and the Lower Sauk Project.  Characterized the Avon Bypass as "authorized in 1936 as a "make work" project.
4/22/1976 Corps DF re Environmental Assessment of Levee Repairs After 1975 Flood Event Repairs took place on Cockreham Island.  Skagit floods "characterized by sharp rises of relatively short duration from October through March."  . . .  "The Skagit River system produces more runoff than any other river basin in the Puget Sound area."  100 year flood 266,000 cfs.  50-year flood 224,000 cfs.  Zero damage 60,000 cfs.  Present levee system with 2ft of freeboard 84,000 to 130,000 cfs or 3 to 11 year protection.  . . . Ross Dam controls about 30 percent of the basin's runoff with 120,000 acre-ft of storage space. . . . During the 1972-1973 collection period,  nearly 14,400 salmon were captured,  trucked, and  released into Baker Lake and adjoining artificial spawning beaches . They consisted  of 10,000 sockeye , 4, 000  coho, 250  chinook , and 30  chum.  In  addition, 50 steelhead trout were captured and released.  . . . The damaged areas at the   town  of Hamilton, and the  four damaged portions between Hamilton and Lyman occurred  where the  high water flow  was  either restricted or at a sharp  change in direction without adequate floodway area to handle the  resulting turbulence.  The floodwater was most destructive where the levee was breached; in some of these cases the water velocity cut a channel from the river through the vegetated bench and beyond into the agricultural area. . . . The greatest loss to fish will be the loss of eggs placed in the gravels by spawning fish prior to the flood.

Corps Draft "Read Ahead" for Meeting with Rep. Meeds

Documents 1975 flood event damages at $3,247,000.  Had Upper Baker additional storage (more than 16,000 ac ft) been in effect at that time, could have saved taxpayers $520,000.
10/15/1976 ACOE MFR RE Levee and Channel Improvements "...authorized in 1966"  . . . "includes the following elements: (a) raising low spots on riverbank levees to provide a minimum of 2 feet of freeboard, (b) -increasing top widths to a minimum of 10 feet, (c) flattening overly steep Side slopes to a maximum of 1 vertical to 2 horizontal, (d) - the-addition of riprap at critical locations, and (e) channel widening 'improvements at three locations to remove obstructions to flood flows."    . . .  " Providing a minimum of 100-year protection for urban areas will be considered with a possibility of higher protection provided by Upper Baker storage or other measures ."

Partial Corps Report on 1975 Flood Event

Documents Upper, Lower Baker Dam and Ross Dam operation during 1975 flood event.  Ross Lake stored 104,000 ac ft or 87% of allocated 120,000 ac ft.  Baker Lake was 19 ft below full pool at start of flood event.  Lake Shannon was 1.5 ft below full pool.  In 14 hrs Lake Shannon filled.  At peak of flood PSPL was dumping 24,800 cfs into Skagit.  Storage used in Baker Lake was 53,900 ac ft or 37,900 ac ft more then they were required to do.

Corps Letter to Skagit County

Congress authorized an additional 58,000 ac ft of storage behind Upper Baker dam.  Would reduce flooding during "major events".  Ltr also addresses possible "deauthorization" of the Avon By-Pass project and the possible construction of a levee improvement project which would give lower valley 11 year protection with 3 feet of freeboard.
7/25/1977 SCBCC response to 7/11/1977 ltr from Corps

"... Skagit County's county-wide flood control zone will be an asset should any large projects, such as the Lower Levee Project or the Avon Bypass Project, be undertaken..." . . . "All of the Diking Districts and the County Engineering Department feel that we should keep working against the deauthorization of the Avon Bypass.


Corps Memorandum re Additional Storage

Documents SCL plans for Copper Creek Dam and possible dams on Newhalum and Thunder Creek.  States that PSPL had no plans to provide additional storage behind Baker River Upper Baker or Lower Baker dams. 
9/27/1977 Corps ltr to Seattle Times re inaccuracies in their 9/16/77 editorial title "Ray's Ill-Advised Dip in Skagit River Issue" in which the Times reported that the Skagit had experienced a "100 yr flood" The levees along the Skagit River passed the 10-year peak flow in December 1975 only because of the successful flood fighting efforts of citizens and local, state, and federal agencies.. flood damages in the Skagit River Basin were estimated at $3,247,000.  Damages from a 100-year event would have been about $35,000,000," based on 1975 price levels.  Utilizing the authorized flood control storage behind Baker Dam will raise the level of protection to between 5 and 21 years. Adding the authorized levee and channel improvements would raise the protection to between 11 and 100 years. Addition of the authorized Avon bypass project that passes 60,000 c.f.s. to Padilla Bay would raise the protection to between 55 and 100 years.
3/1978 Corps Public Brochure re Skagit River Levee and Channel Projects See also Public Meeting Transcript and 3/23/78 SVH for a meeting summary.  Pg2...The 100-yr flood at SW is estimated at about 215,000 cfs.  Pg3...The existing levees below Burlington vary in level of protection ... from 84,000 cfs to 130,000 cfs with a minimum 2 ft levee freeboard.  Pg7...The two "PSE" dams on the Baker river provide flood control for the Baker River Basin which amounts to approximately 10% of the Skagit River drainage  ... Skagit River flood damages in Dec 1975 totaled $3,247,000... Skagit County has considered a comprehensive flood control plan to guide future planning and has formed a county-wide flood control district to enable the county to sponsor flood control improvement projects.  (See 1973 Comp Plan Alternatives for the Skagit ) which was clearly never enforced.
11/22/1978 Baker Lake Reservoir Flood Control Negotiations Ltr and Notes from Skagit County Engineer to Skagit County Commissioners Negotiations are faultering (sic) over the method of reimbursement to Puget Power for power loss due to this agreed draw-down. Puget Power is indicating to the Corps that they want reimbursement in power, rather than in financial remuneration. This in turn involves Bonneville Power Administration in a very complicated 3-party negotiation process.”  PDF also includes notes from and about the Corps of Engineers' role in Baker River dam storage.

Informational Briefing

Document provided talking points and concerns re informational briefing on Skagit River project.  Corps main concern on FERC Relicensing process was that they had limited funds $300,000 to devote to studying Upper Baker storage and FERC process.  Corps felt risk was that BPA could pull out of funding flood storage and that FERC could delete current storage requirement.  20 yr compensation agreement with PSE expired in 2000.
5/8/2002 Biological Assessment of Proposed Interim Conservation Measures for Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Pending Relicensing

Construction of an extensive system of levees and revetments, in combination with flood control by the Skagit and Baker Projects has allowed continued development of the former floodplain. Land uses such as agriculture, urban and residential development, and construction of infrastructure (roads, bridges, drainage systems) have permanently altered the valley landscape. The operation and maintenance of existing flood control facilities by Skagit County is dependent on flood control operations by the upstream hydroelectric projects.

7/9/2002 News Release Showing Partnership between Corps of Engineers and Nature Conservancy Interesting to note there was no mention of the Baker River Dams which later the Nature Conservancy worked to make sure no additional storage would be made available for flood reduction impacts on the landowners along the Skagit River.
7/9/2002 Series of e-mails expressing concern over TNC/Corps Joint Press Release “If that is not possible we can do damage control with Seattle City Light (Ross, etc.) and Puget Sound Energy (who operates the Baker River projects) but it benefits neither USACE nor TNC to create the impression that we are going to conspire to dictate operational changes to dams neither of us owns.
3/7/2003 Tribal Concerns about the Reanalysis of Storage in Upper Baker “Larry Wasserman … expressed concern that the Corps would only look at the economic/flood benefits in making our recommendation and not at the potential environmental impacts.”
5/21/2003 Responses to Questions Posed by Mr. Mike Sato on May 2, 2003 Regarding the Status of the Skagit River Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Feasibility Study “A very preliminary assessment was completed in April and has demonstrated that there could be additional flood control benefit that could be provided with additional storage at the Baker River reservoirs.  However, the assumptions of the analysis need to be refined, and the proposed modifications better defined before the study proceeds to a full hydraulic and economic benefit analysis as well as undertaking NEPA scoping and environmental evaluation, as well as preparing engineering design modifications and cost estimates.”
5/30/2003 Corps of Engineers Responses To Questions Relating to Implementation of Additional Flood Control Storage at Baker River Hydroelectric Project, FERC No. 2150 “In any event, a decision document submitted by the Corps’ Seattle District office would be required to support the recommendation for authorization for the Corps to operate Upper Baker for additional flood control storage. This decision document would have to demonstrate a Federal interest in additional flood control storage at Upper Baker ... [and thus would] have to demonstrate that the recommended plan is economically justified (i.e., flood damage reduction monetary benefits exceed project costs). The recommended plan would have to be demonstrated to be consistent with protecting the Nation’s environment, pursuant to national environmental statutes, applicable Executive Orders and other Federal planning requirements.”
6/9/2003 Scope of Work for Skagit River Flood Damage Reduction Feasibility Study’s Baker River Dams Storage Evaluation Research into finding maximum utilization of Baker River Dams’ flood storage capabilities.
5/28/2004 Draft Biological Opinion for Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultation for the Baker River Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2150).  NOAA Fisheries Consultation No. 2002/01040.

Dam storage is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Puget Sound chinook salmon.

8/9/2004 Seattle District Corps of Engineers Letter to FERC, Re: Baker River Project, Project Number P-2150-033 Corps requests "to be a cooperating agency in the preparation of the environmental documentation" of the Baker River Project, Project Number P-2150-033.


PIE Technical Memorandum: Analysis of Flood Control Storage at Baker River Project PIE makes, among other findings, that almost $11 million dollars in "annual flood reduction benefits" as well as about 10,000 cfs reduction is possible by maximizing flood control with the Baker River reservoirs.
11/24/2004 Baker River Hydroelectric Project, FERC No. 2150 -Baker River Hydroelectric Project Comprehensive Settlement Agreement

The Settlement Agreement is a negotiated compromise worked out among the parties concerning extensive protection, mitigation and enhancement measures for the Project that address aquatic, terrestrial, recreational, cultural, and other resources. The Settlement Agreement reflects a consensus of all active participants in the relicensing, in regard to a wide variety of issues identified through the alternative licensing process.

12/21/2004 Army Corps of Engineers reply to FERC Comprehensive Settlement Agreement

"Without the completion and Congressional approval of the GI study, the Corps does not have the authority to regulate any additional storage at Upper or Lower Baker Dam."  "...The Corps considers this section of Article 107 as a place holder for possible future action."

12/22/2004 Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife reply to FERC Comprehensive Settlement Agreement "We have participated in numerous meetings since 1999  regarding the relicensing of this hydroelectric facility. In the past year alone, we have attended more than 105 Baker River Project relicensing meetings to address issues associated with wildlife, fish, recreation, and the language of the settlement agreement." . . .

Because the additional flood storage requires several significant approvals outside of the authority of the Federal Power Act before it will become a reality, it is WDFW’s view that the proposed license language for additional flood storage is a place holder that allows for a future possibility of an action by the Corps."

12/22/2004 Puget Sound Energy reply to FERC Comprehensive Settlement Agreement "PSE acknowledges the dispute between the County and other Parties regarding the NEPA process for Proposed License Article 107(b). It acknowledges that the Settlement does not determine such process. However, that omission is customary for flood control provisions under the control of the ACOE, which generally does not participate as a party in any relicensing proceeding, including settlement. The Parties did not purport to determine the ACOE's process on its behalf. Notwithstanding this process dispute, PSE fully supports the Settlement as drafted, signed by the Parties, and filed with the Commission as being a truly comprehensive settlement agreement."
12/22/2004 Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe reply to FERC Comprehensive Settlement Agreement "Our intent in drafting this article matches that expressed during the meeting by PSE, that Article 107 is a placeholder to show the intent of the relicense group to strive to achieve 29,000 acre-feet of flood storage at lower Baker Reservoir through the process established be the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)."

"Throughout the relicense process the ACOE staff has been consistent in stating that additional flood storage at lower Baker Reservoir would only be considered as part of the Skagit Basin Flood Study."  . . .  "Given the disparity of the two processes, the language of Article 107 that addresses changes to the flood control regime must be read as a placeholder that shows the intent of the relicense participants to strive to achieve 29,000 acre-feet of additional storage at Lower Baker Reservoir, but only through the established ACOE process. Agreement to Article 107 by the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe was conditioned on the understanding that Skagit County recognized that additional flood control would have to follow the ACOE process and that Skagit County was committed to the ACOE process." . . .

"...the Settlement does not include any environmental Protection, Mitigation and Enhancement measures for additional flood control. This is because the environmental effects have not been identified. It is our expectation that these measures would be part of the ACOE process. While additional flood control was not scoped or studied, relicense participants were willing to include a place holder license article solely to address the concerns of Skagit County and provide them certainty that there would be support for striving to achieve additional flood control through the ACOE process."

12/22/2004 Swinomish Tribal Community reply to FERC Comprehensive Settlement Agreement
12/23/2004 Skagit County Government reply to FERC Comprehensive Settlement Agreement The plain text of the proposed flood control license article and related provisions included in the Settlement make it clear that it is the intention of the Settlement signatories that Proposed License Article 107 ("Article l07') and Article 106(L) govern flood control operations at the Baker River Project for the entire term of the new license. Therefore, Article 107 is not a "placeholder," "interim," or "temporary" flood control license article, and there is no language anywhere in the Settlement that supports such a characterization. The Commission should give no credence to unsupported after-the-fact claims that the flood control provisions of the Settlement are a "placeholder."
12/28/2004 Upper Skagit Indian Tribe reply to FERC Comprehensive Settlement Agreement

"In regards to the issues raised by FERC staff during the technical conference of December 8, 2004 the Tribe believes that license Article 107 represents the intent of the parties as it relates to the proposed additional 29,000 acre feet of storage for flood control. It was the Tribe's understanding that all of the parties to the Agreement would work together in order to achieve the additional 29,000 acre feet of extra flood storage. The main concern as it related to this goal from the Tribe's perspective was the effect that such storage would have on the down stream flow regime. After reviewing the proposal it was determined by all parties that the additional flood control would not have a negative impact on the proposed down stream flow regime and as such the Tribe's concerns were satisfied."

01/03/2005 Corps of Engineers Seattle District Response to Comment Letters to the Comprehensive Settlement Agreement "If FERC includes the addition of29,000 acre-feet of storage at Lower Baker Dam as part of the license review for the Baker River Project, this would significantly complicate and delay the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) review for the license."
02/14/2005 Letters to local elected officials and Congressional Delegation by Skagit County Public Works Director "As the letter states, we are deeply concerned about the letters the Corps of Engineers has submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), suggesting that the additional flood control storage at the Lower Baker Reservoir is a mere "place holder" in the new license to be issued to Puget Sound Energy for the Baker River Hydro-Electric Project. . . . The new license, once issued by FERC, will be in place for up to 45 years and we need to ensure that adequate provisions for flood control are included and not delayed by the Corps process for many years, or even decades"
03/2008 PSE Fish Enhancement Handout

PSE one-page handout describing their "fish enhancement" efforts.

04/07/2008 PSE Lower Baker Hydroelectric Project Handout

PSE handout giving basic facts about Lower Baker Dam and surrounding PSE facilities.

04/07/2008 PSE Upper Baker Hydroelectric Project Handout

PSE handout giving basic facts about Upper Baker Dam and surrounding PSE facilities.


Press Release: "PSE’s new Baker River $50 million fish passage system generating success in first few weeks of operation"

“With more than 200,000 juvenile sockeye already collected, the out-migration is peaking as the second highest total run on record and may be on pace to shatter the existing record” with new PSE fish gulper.

10/17/2008 FERC License for Puget Sound Energy Baker River Dams

Official terms of Federal Energy Regulator Commission license to Puget Sound Energy to operate Baker River Dams.

6/15/2010 nhc Memorandum: Skagit River Gl Study- Seasonality Assessment of Flood Storage “Hydrologic analyses of existing condition regulated flows conducted to date have ignored the seasonal variation of flood control storage and have assumed that the required maximum amount of storage (74,000 ac-ft at Upper Baker and 120,000 ac-ft at Ross) is available for all floods, regardless of the date of occurrence. The full amount of flood storage is not required at Upper Baker until November 15 and at Ross until December 1. The purpose of the work described in this memo was to assess the impact of lower flood control storage requirements prior to December 1 on regulated peak flows on the Skagit River near Concrete (i .e. downstream from the Baker River confluence).
“Operations at Upper Baker have also deviated from expected future operations since 2004. In accordance with the requirements of a relicensing agreement, an Interim Protection Plan (IPP) was introduced in 2004 to improve fish habitat in the Baker River by reducing rapid fluctuations in flow. Under IPP-related project operations, more storage than required would be available in the Baker River project early in the flood control season.
A further change affecting flood control performance has been the implementation by PSE since about 2006 of flood control pool buffers at both Upper Baker and Lower Baker. The buffers provide additional storage above that required for flood control operations per the operating license. At Upper Baker, this additional storage is 26,000 acre-ft, so that the bottom of the buffer is approximately 7ft below the maximum permissible pool elevation in the flood control season. At Lower Baker, the bottom of the buffer is approximately 5 ft below the spillway crest elevation, representing approximately 9,850 acre-ft of storage below the spillway crest. The purpose of the buffers is to provide PSE with operational flexibility while avoiding, to the extent possible, incursion into the formal flood control storage space at Upper Baker. PSE operates the reservoirs to try to maintain water levels toward the low end of these buffers (water levels are generally maintained 2 to 3 feet above the bottom of the buffer), however there is no formal operating policy for the buffers.
“The Baker Project WCM should be updated to show flood control storage requirements per the current FERC license. Future updates to the WCM should be anticipated and coordinated with PSE to reflect operational changes adopted as a result of future implementation of new FERC license conditions. ”

This document was submitted to the 2011 Skagit River GI  Scoping Efforts by the City of Burlington.
1/11/2011 Tetra Tech Imminent Flood Analysis Article 107 (c) Presentation to the Jan. 11, 2011 meeting of the PSE Aquatic Resources Group Meetng 55-slide presentation on how preemptive drawdowns of the Baker River reservoirs would impact flooding.

This document was submitted to the 2011 Skagit River GI  Scoping Efforts by the City of Burlington.
4/14/2011 Letter to Puget Sound Energy (PSE), RE: Baker Hydroelectric Project: Temporary Reservoir Drawdown Prior to a Skagit River Flood “At a recent briefing to update the Aquatics Working Group, Tetra Tech provided preliminary results indicating virtually no benefit to drawing down the Baker Project reservoirs in advance of a flood. This conclusion was arrived at due to an analytical approach constrained artificially by provisions of an outdated water control manual, the perceived necessity to continually generate electricity through the critical flood peak time period (Puget Sound Energy has already indicated its willingness to shut down generation during the Skagit river flood peak), and additional project outflow constraints contained within the license.
“We are concerned with this approach. What is needed in this critically important matter of public safety is a collaborative, responsible and responsive set of protocols that provide a straight-forward way to temporarily maximize the Project's ability to reduce flood damage.
“In summary, we are requesting the emphasis of the current study be redirected toward analyzing how to achieve the draw down as required under the settlement agreement, and zero project outflow during the critical few hours before and after a Skagit River flood peak, and developing specific protocols which contain provisions for an inclusive and collaborative decision-making process for imminent flood emergency reservoir draw down.”
4/20/2011 Letter to Skagit County Public Works Project Manager, re: Tetra Tech Briefing on the Article 107(c) Imminent Flood Drawdown Analysis “The current water control manual mandatory requirement to continuously release 5,000 cfs from Upper Baker, and recommendation to pass inflow from Lower Baker, is based on flood control operations assuming no more than 74,000 acre-feet of flood storage in Upper Baker will be available. The mandatory language in the water control manual is a tacit acknowledgement that 74,000 acre-feet of flood storage is inadequate to reduce project outflow to zero during a large Skagit basin flood event.”
5/5/2011 Letter from PSE President, Re: Baker River Hydroelectric Project; Reservoir Operations “Your letter also expressed concern about the consistency of PSE's ongoing efforts to fulfill the requirements of Article 1 07( c) with our obligations arising under Section 4.1.1 and Section 4.1.2 of the 2004 Settlement Agreement. ... We have and will continue to work diligently with Skagit County to encourage the Corps to adopt appropriate proposed amendments to the Water Control Manual. However, the Corps, to date, has declined to adopt the proposed amendments for reasons, to our understanding, that relate to scope of the Corps' authority to make these changes.”
5/10/2011 Draft Meeting Minutes Baker River Project Implementation Aquatic Resources Group Article 107(c) Workshop Settlement Agreement 4.1.1 created the requirement for PSE to use reasonable best efforts to draw down the reservoirs to target elevations ahead of an imminent flood event. Article 107(c) calls for PSE to consult with ARG members, the USACE and Skagit County to develop means and operational methods to operate the reservoirs in a way that is consistent with the license. This workshop provides an opportunity to gather input from the various stakeholders. ... When a water event is approaching, the National Weather Service generally issues a warning several days in advance. 107(c) is focused on actions during this time period. At a point when a flood is declared, the Corps assumes control of the project with PSE’s cooperation. ...
What triggers an imminent flood draw-down? Mark responded that each event is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, depending on weather conditions, forecasts, time of year and reservoir levels, etc. Chal concurred and referenced the “double pumper” event in Oct. 2003 as an example of successful drawdown ahead of a flood.

This document was submitted to the 2011 Skagit River GI  Scoping Efforts by the City of Burlington.
5/26/2011 License Articles applicable to Article 107 c or Flooding All legal language and tables governing flood control storage management for Upper Baker Dam & Lower Baker Dam.
6/1/2011 Update on Flood Control Provisions, with Emphasis on License Article 107(c) From the Perspective of the Local Communities 55-slide presentation submitted to FERC in D.C.  Slides 39-45 explain how drawdown would work with the Baker River Dams in the event of an imminent flood.

This document was submitted to the 2011 Skagit River GI  Scoping Efforts by the City of Burlington.
7/11/2011 Preliminary Draft: Reservoir Management Related to Imminent Flood Conditions - Settlement Agreement Article 107C - Baker River Hydroelectric Project FERC No. 2150 “The License requires PSE to consult with the ARG (Aquatics Resource Group), and specifically Skagit County and the Corps of Engineers (the Corps), to develop means and operational methods to operate the Project reservoirs in a manner addressing imminent flood events and consistent with the requirements of the License.
“When a flood is imminent, the settlement agreement (section 4.1.1) requires PSE to employ reasonable best efforts to achieve target reservoir elevations (Upper Baker Reservoir is 704.92 [NAVD 88] and Lower Baker Reservoir is 423.66 [NAVD 88]). These drawdowns must be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with the License, other applicable laws, and PSE’s contractual commitments to the Corps. To date, these efforts have provided additional storage. ... As noted above, each high-water event presents its own set of conditions, and prior events are not necessarily predictive of what may occur — or can be achieved — in the future.”
7/11/2011 PSE Publication of FERC License to Operate Baker River Hydrologic Project Settlement Agreement Article 107 Licensee shall consult with the ARG, and specifically Skagit County and the Corps of Engineers, to develop means and operational methods to operate the Project reservoirs in a manner addressing imminent flood events and consistent with the requirements of the license. Appropriate means and methods may include, without limitation, additional reservoir drawdown below the maximum established flood pool. Licensee shall submit a report to the Commission within three years following license issuance describing any operational changes developed as a result of this consultation.

Red print Puget Sound Energy's.

This document was submitted to the 2011 Skagit River GI  Scoping Efforts by the City of Burlington.
7/28/2011 Letter with City of Burlington, City of Mt. Vernon, City of Sedro-Woolley & Town of La Conner to Skagit County Government, Re: Review Comments, Puget Sound Energy's Preliminary Draft Report, "Reservoir Management Related to Imminent Flood Conditions" "Flood control is a federally authorized purpose of the Baker Hydroelectric Project. However, hydrologic analyses performed by the Corps of Engineers and Skagit County indicate the existing authorized 74,000 acre-feet of flood storage is not adequate to capture the basin's own 100-year event. About 140,000 acre-feet of flood storage is necessary for that. Therefore, in a medium-tolarge flood event, the Project will be forced to discharge water into the Skagit River peak flow, thereby increasing flood damage. License article 107(c) provides a mechanism for providing the additional necessary flood storage only when it is needed - in the event that a large Skagit River basin flood is imminent- in a way that also can be expected to protect aquatic resources."

This document was submitted to the 2011 Skagit River GI  Scoping Efforts by the City of Burlington.
8/10/2011 Skagit River General Investigation Study Scoping Meeting Comments - City of Burlington 34 slide presentation to the the 2011 Skagit River GI  Scoping Efforts by the City of Burlington.  Main focus is flood storage.

With additional Baker flood storage in place (139,000 AF in accordance w/ Baker advance drawdown targets), Skagit peak flow reduction will be 13,000 – 18,000 cubic feet per second.
“ – Reduces downstream surface water elevation 1.5 feet
“ – Coordination w/ downstream storage (40,000 – 60,000 acre-feet in the Nookachamps basin) reduces another 1.5 feet.
“•Similar reductions can occur from Ross storage and operation
“• At least 3-4 feet flood reduction in total.
9/19/2011 Agenda for September 19, 2011 Skagit County Flood Control Zone District Meeting The meeting will elect a new chair, give an update on the Skagit GI study & Baker FERC Relicensing 107 (c)/Baker River Dam Storage.

Handout 2: Draft Minutes of July 25, 2011

“Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) Relicensing Article 107 (c): Martin, City of Burlington, reported on Article 107 (c) as being an opportunity to provide additional flood storage, as needed. It is beneficial to drawdown more water than has been agreed upon, before a flood takes place, because it reduces the risk of flooding and severe damages to fish habitat. Currently, 74,000 acre feet of flood storage is authorized, but the county, towns and cities feel this is inadequate for a 100-year flood event. Instead, 140,000 acre feet should be authorized. Puget Sound Energy does not want to study this issue nor does it want to amend the articles or settlement agreement.”

Handout 3: 107 c Baker Storage Imminent Drawdown Important Dates

Timeline of efforts to get a plan for drawdown of the Baker River Dams before a major flood.

Handout 4: Memo from Skagit County Natural Resources Director, Re: Skagit GI Washington DC Trip

At the end of the meeting, the following actions were determined:
“1. Use available Corps funding to complete the Feasibility Scoping Meeting Report and submit it to Corps Headquarters by October 1, 2011. Work tasks will need to stay "on schedule" in order to meet this due date and weekly Corp phone conferences will be established to track progress and any resource needs.
“3. Clarify flood damage benefit opportunities in the Baker River system pertaining to FERC License articles 107c and 107b. The Corps immediately began to explore issues related to Baker Storage, even between meetings. HQ now has a better understanding of why the local community has demonstrated such keen interest in this measure.”

Handout 5: Skagit County Public Works Letter to USACE Seattle District Colonel, Re: Visit

Letter thanking the Colonel and recapping pledges from the June meeting in DC on the Skagit GI.

Handout 6: PSE Draft Meeting Notes Baker River Project License Implementation Aquatic Resources Group Meeting Minutes

“The plan is now to submit the next version of the report along with comments by September 16 with final comments due October 3. PSE will submit the report to FERC by October 17. Lorna reiterated the County's desire to see analysis included in the report that demonstrates what targets can be hit for 107c within the constraints of 106 and without the Corps' Water Control Manual. They also want to see timing and discharge data for the 10% exceedance. Gary explained that the analysis performed by Tetra Tech will not be included in the report as it was off target for what 107c was supposed to accomplish. And, based on the results of the teleconference and the need for amendment to pursue operations Skagit County has proposed, PSE sees the focus of the report as the communication protocol.”
11/10/2011 Baker Hydroelectric Project Imminent Flood Reservoir Drawdown: Why Drawing Down the Reservoirs In Advance of a Skagit Basin Flood Reduces Flood Risk, Improves Salmon Survival, and Increases Power Generation Updated 19 slide presentation with the benefits of flood protection, fish enhancement, and power generation.  The idea is to drawdown before an imminent flood to be able to stop outflow during the crest of flood events.  This strategy is to protect salmon eggs and hydropower capacity plus reduce amount of necessary dam storage in between flood events.
5/9/2012 Swinomish Tribal Concerns RE: Skagit General Investigation Study Tribe is concerned about changing hydrology due to climate change; Baker River Dam Operation and Storage; floodplain growth patterns due to flood control efforts; water rights; Fir Island Bypass; leaving existing levees after building setback levees; alleged shortcuts “to the analysis of Treaty-reserved fisheries resources.”

Furthermore, “We are concerned that although we have been involved .in this process since 1993, it is only now, after an expenditure of millions of dollars, that the necessary environmental studies are being identified. It is unclear to us how studies associated with impacts to fish, fish habitat and consequences of climate change, can be accomplished in the next few years and with the limited budget that your staff has identified. In the past, when inadequate resources were available to undertake studies, assumptions mutually agreeable to the Tribe, federal agencies and the Corps of Engineers ("Corps") were identified to expedite environmental review. It is unclear to us how the Corps intends to fill in these gaps at this point in time. Having stated this overreaching concern, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (the "Tribe") would like to identify the following concerns that may constitute "fatal flaws":”
5/20/2012  Comment Sheet to Corps fm Josef Kunzler  “I absolutely favor the non-structural alternative coupled to dam storage. We need dam storage as the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly flood protection measure. Only those advocating for dam removal, profits before people or fish before people could possibly oppose logical drawdown and storage requirements for public safety. We also need to limit development in the volcanic floodplain for safety & agriculture, which is what the nonstructural alternative does.  ... Even if dam modifications have to be made to Lower Baker Dams, a thoughtful contribution from Puget Sound Energy to this project is arguably in the long-term interests of Puget Sound Energy shareholders to ensure the dam’s long-term viability and continuing returns to Puget Sound Energy shareholders.”

July 16, 2012 Skagit County Flood Control Zone District Advisory Committee (SC FCZD AC) Summary

“Dan Berentson said the County has been meeting with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and the USACE to address issues regarding hard storage in the Lower Baker system. The FERC relicensing agreement held 29,000 acre feet as a placeholder through the Skagit GI. The first point was to find out how much, up to 29,000 acre feet, can be stored at the Lower Baker dam without dam modifications. Irena Netik, PSE, stated it to be about 20,000 acre feet. The next question centered on the cost of replacing lost power; another stipulation of the relicensing agreement. If dates were changed from November 15 to October 15, about 1,500 megawatt hours would be lost at the Upper Baker Dam, and about 6,500 megawatt hours would be lost at the Lower Baker Dam. About 3% – 4 % inflation would be figured into the formula for figuring out cost, as well. This would be figured into cost to benefit ratio in the Skagit GI.”
4/1/2015 Skagit County Commissioners Letter, RE: GI Study Parameters

The Board of County Commissioners received your request to support a waiver to exceed 3X3X3 parameters for both schedule and funding. Skagit County respectfully declines to support the waiver as presented. We have thoroughly supported the 3X3X3 rule since its inception which came at great financial cost to Skagit County, our citizens, and our partners in floodplain management.”

See also: 6/17/2015 Skagit County Commissioners Letter Terminating Involvement in the Corps of Engineers GI Study Process

6/17/2015 Skagit County Commissioners Letter Terminating Involvement in the Corps of Engineers GI Study Process “The Skagit River General Investigation's Feasibility Phase began in 1997. Through the study's cost share agreement and subsequent amendments, Skagit County and the Corps agreed to a $14,465,180 total study cost with the Corps serving as the study lead and the County serving as the nonfederal sponsor. After 18 years and reaching the lid of the cost share agreement, we are still awaiting a final plan.
“In April 2012, the Corps reinvigorated the study with the 3/3/3 rule, meaning feasibility studies would be completed in three years, for three million dollars, while integrating the three levels of the Corps. Skagit County agreed to this process and contributed our final $1,500,000 of the total study costs in cash.

See also: 4/1/2015 Skagit County Commissioners Letter, RE: GI Study Parameters