Comments and Concerns Regarding the Freemont Valley Preservation Project
Draft EIR SCH #2012111014 Vol. I September 2013
The Eastern Kern County RCD comments letter faxed on December 6, 2012 is not included in the Draft EIR document.
Document states that the project will store up to 220,000 AF per year of surface water in 2 phases. However, it also states (page 3-36) that the source of available surplus surface water supplies is “unknown at this time and could potentially include either directly or by exchange, surplus water from LADWP Los Angeles Aqueduct, AVEK transmission facilities and State Water Project Aqueduct “ and in other places in the document I believe that MWD and Colorado River Project water are also mentioned.
The comment letters from LADWP and from the County of Inyo Water Department both state concerns about the source for water supplies for banking for this project.
Since “In general ASR (Aquifer Storage and Recovery) projects involve the storage of water in a suitable aquifer during times when water is available and recovery of the water from the aquifer when it is needed (Appendix B 4.24.5)” and that water is described as surplus – how can it be counted upon year after year for the production capacities listed in the document (200,000 AF in two phases)? The Project states a production capacity of 114,000 AF/Y of native groundwater (page 3-36). The production of the 114,000 AF/Y of native groundwater seems to be counted upon annually regardless of the schedule of banked water received. If no imported water is available for several years, are all the commitments for transmission of water then met by the production of the native groundwater alone?
Page 1-130 and 1-131 state that 10% of stored water (10,000 AF/Y) is left in the basin “to provide compensation or to provide an alternate source of water in the event that water levels drop to unacceptable levels in off-site wells as a consequence of operation sampling and analyzing water in domestic drinking water wells located within 3 miles of project operations. “ 90% of the stored water is provided to the five priority levels of users (identified in Appendix B ES2.2.1 – ES2.2.5). However another 10% of the 90% of the native groundwater production each year (10,260 AF/Y) would be made directly available to County of Kern for use as determined by the Board of Supervisors in any area of the county under their jurisdiction, as well as 10% of the 90% (9,000 AF/Y) of the banked water annually (page 1-10 and Appendix B, ES 1.12) “in perpetuity”. Page 2-3 states that water could be transported by rail car, or in the longer term by pipeline facility, from the project site to the San Joaquin Valley.
Unknown potential impacts – not enough data to know what will happen when the imported water is mixed with the native groundwater. Native groundwater requires treatment for TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) and arsenic. What about subsidence issues, and seismic /earthquake/ ground movement issues, fault issues, flooding issues? Please read Appendix H GEI letter dated August 19, 2013: “… the development and production of native water as indicated in the GMMMP of 114,000 AF/Y has the potential to cause significant unmitigated impacts to the Fremont Valley Groundwater Basin by causing subsidence, unknown supply impacts, and potentially irreversible groundwater quality degradation.”
Confusion in the document. Fremont Valley is identified as a closed basin. However, in the Appendix B document provided by SoilWorks Earth Sciences Group, there are documents relating to subsurface flows in the Sierran bedrock through fracture pathways indicating recharge to Fremont Valley from Lake Isabella and the Kern River area. Appendix B also describes an interconnection with the Indian Wells Valley through the El Paso basin. “Watershed along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada and western slopes of the El Paso Mountains from Dove Springs Canyon and south, will flow along the lower
portion of Indian Wells Valley to Fremont Valley – through the El Paso basin. This forms a funnel-like landform which empties into Fremont Valley. Water from the central and southern parts of El Paso Mountains will sheet flow or collect in the numerous canyons and ravines and also flow southward. (Appendix B, SoilWorks Earth Sciences Group).”
Pages 3-38 and 3-39 statement under Groundwater Basin Storage Capacity – “The proposed project would involve the maximum annual recharge of 222,000 AF and maximum annual production of approximately 200,000 AF, which represents 23 percent of the estimated available storage capacity (GEI 2012.) Studies indicate that below 600 feet bgs (beneath ground surface), the Koehn Lake area may contain an additional 10,000,000 AF of groundwater in storage (SoilWorks, 2013).”
Appendix B, ES1.12 “Kern County will receive 10% of all native water and water bank water in the form of actual ‘wet’ water in storage and such ‘water rights as necessary’ to protect the 10% interest of Kern County. The 10% shall be a right in perpetuity so long as the native water development and production facility and water bank ‘Put’ and ‘Take’ storage of imported surface water exists. The right of Kern County to the 10% shall be enforceable against the current and future owner of the FVPP. Kern County may sell, lease or contract any wet water or water rights. The actual delivery of the in place in storage (typo in report). Wet 10% water shall be provided at the current State Water Project (SWP) rates for municipal, agricultural or commercial uses.”
Appendix B, ES2.1 “To protect the economic interests of Kern County, the FVPP shall compensate Kern County annually for each acre foot per year (AF/Y) of water developed and produced from the water bank and native water.”
Appendix B, ES4.1.4 “The imported surface water which is ’put’ into the FVPP water bank and which is ‘take’ out of the FVPP water bank may come by direct flow discharge into the FVPP from one owner of imported surface water or developed water, and then later direct flow discharge from the FVPP back to the same owner of imported surface water or developed water, or from one owner of imported surface water or developed water by exchange with another owner of an Aqueduct or Water Transmission Main Line and then direct flow discharge into the FVPP and then later direct flow discharge from the FVPP back to the Aqueduct or Water Transmission Main Line for final delivery to the owner of the imported surface water or developed water by exchange, or any combination of multiple exchanges by willing parties; the intent being to make ‘put and take’ water available to every region of Kern County or every region of the South Lahontan Basin.”
Delivery of water back to the LADWP Los Angeles Aqueduct would be through a proposed underground pipeline ( 72 Inches in diameter)on Site 2 (Sons) page 3-46
A booster pump station would transfer water from Site 2 (Sons) in either of two directions south to AVEK and Edwards Air Force Base systems, or north into the LADWP Los Angeles Aqueduct system. Page 3-46
Appendix B, ES4.2.1 “10% of all native water produced and developed from the FRVPP native development and production facilities will be under the exclusive possession and control of Kern County for production and distribution as decided by Kern County in its exclusive discretion, unless studies undertaken in accordance with the GMMMP and TSM demonstrate that a higher number shall be used.”
Page 3-17 “Additionally, approximately 7,500 AF/Y of this native water would be made available for purchase and delivery to Edwards Air Force Base.”
Appendix D 2.2 Groundwater conditions page 5 – “Large tension cracks associated with localized differential subsidence resulting from groundwater withdrawal have been observed in the Fremont Valley area (Holzer 2005).”
Appendix D pages 8 and 9 – “Sons property may have a potential to be impacted by debris or mud flow associated with flash floods from Jawbone Canyon west of the property. Brothers property may be impacted by debris and mud flow associated with flash floods from Red Rock Canyon southwest of the property. Cantil property appears to be located in the path of an un-named alluvial fan wash.” These are identified as having a Potentially significant impact.
Appendix E Air Quality Impact Analysis - letter addendum to Kern County Planning states that the project is proposed to operate for 25 years and then be decommissioned. Project proposed to be completed in 2017 – decommission in 2042.
Appendix E page 25 in discussion of PM10 Fugitive dust – states that main source will be from vehicular traffic. Does not address wind storm events or wind erosion. Only PM10 from grading and construction aspects of the project are addressed. Valley fever is not addressed anywhere in the air quality appendix. Statement on page 27 – “will not result in significant emissions of HAPS (Hazardous Air Pollutants)”. Chart on page 26 shows fugitive dust PM10 total as 1.15 tons/yr. States that the 15 tons/yr threshold set by the EKCAPCD (East Kern County Air Pollution Control District) is not exceeded. The totals are spread over all the solar projects in Kern County and are addressed in a larger regional context with no consideration of local impacts that include wind storm events and blowing sand. “Regional contribution to these cumulative impacts (on regional ozone and PM10 formation) will be almost negligible” – stated on page 33.
Notes by Donna Thomas October 3, 2013