Conservationists Hope Federal Dismissal is Final Nail in Coffin for Cleveland National Forest Dam Project

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Conservationists are not out of the woods (or watershed) yet, but they believe victory is near in a long battle to stop a dam and hydroelectric project proposed in Cleveland National Forest.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week dismissed the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project (LEAPS), which would pump water from the lake to a new dam and dot powerlines across rural communities and roadless wildlands in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Applicants the Nevada Hydro Company and the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District have 30 days to appeal the July 12 FERC decision, but conservation and environmental groups are hoping they'll just drop the project that has been beset with financial difficulties, regulatory pressure and advocate opposition for 15 years

Elsinore Valley Water District
"This dam project was an ecological and economic catastrophe waiting to happen," says Jonathan Evans of the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement from the nonprofit conservation organization. "Hopefully today's decision dismissing the application will be the final nail in its coffin."

"We can't relax yet, but after 15 years of fighting we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, signaling relief from the threat of this monstrosity," Gene Frick of the Sierra Club's Santa Ana Mountains Task Force says in the same statement.

The project would pump water from Lake Elsinore at night to a new dam on the crest of the Cleveland National Forest. The dam would then release the water during the day to power turbines to generate electricity. But opponents, who also included Inland Empire Waterkeeper, claim LEAPS would have wide-ranging impacts on wildlife, water quality, rural character and wildfire.

The State Water Resources Control Board earlier denied the LEAPS water-quality certificate, which led to a lawsuit still in San Diego Superior Court. A 2009 grand jury investigation found the project was "not economically viable."

It will now be up to applicants to decide whether they are just chasing good money after bad. The permitting process has reportedly cost Elsinore Valley's water district and its ratepayers more than $4 million so far.

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It takes more energy to pump the water uphill than can be recovered when it flows down again, the project would waste energy.

It might save a few bucks for local residents by transferring energy purchases from daytime to nightime rates, but you have to ask how long it would take to payback the capital costs of building the project before it generated any savings.

mitch young
mitch young

Once again, we let in literally over a million immigrants a year legally, probably another 200,000 or so illegally (net), and both groups  have a lot of kids.

What do you 'left' environmentalists propose these people use to drink, shower with, flush their toilets with, etc.

public bizmail
public bizmail

The project has NOTHING to do with water supply. Building this lake would not provide an additional drop of water to anyone.

This is a power storage project: pump water uphill at night when rates are cheap, have water run downhill to provide power in the afternoon when it's hot and rates are high.

mitch young
mitch young

Fair enough, thanks for the info.

 People need power two. More people, more power requirements.

mitch young
mitch young


BTW 'rural character' is emphasized here. Again, how millions of immigrants during a decade does not bode well for 'rural character'. Sure, it's Americans that move to the new developments, but generally because their old areas become barrios or little Saigons or whatever.

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