UPDATES

This page provides periodic updates on the efforts being undertaken to develop a Fish & Wildlife Program for the Eklutna Hydroelectric Project. If you are interested in receiving emails when new updates are posted, please contact Samantha Owen.

02/18/22

The draft Year 1 study reports and the draft Year 2 study plans were distributed to the Technical Work Groups (TWGs) and the parties to the 1991 Agreement (parties) on February 11. The TWGs and the parties will have one month to review and provide comments to the project owners. Shortly after the comment deadline, the project owners will schedule a series of TWG meetings to address any substantive comments that may warrant further discussion. The project team will then revise as appropriate and distribute the Proposed Final Year 2 Study Plans to the parties for concurrence. The goal of the project owners is to receive concurrence from all of the parties by mid-May so that we can initiate our second field season by late May. The Year 1 study reports and Year 2 study plans will be posted to the Documents page of this website after they are finalized.

11/12/21

Preliminary results from our studies this year were presented to the aquatics Technical Work Group (TWG) earlier this week. Our team continues to work on drafting year 1 study reports, which will be distributed to the aquatics TWG in February for review and comment.

Also this week, a proposed study program framework for year 2 was presented to all four TWGs. After receiving feedback from the TWGs regarding the studies to be conducted next year, our team immediately started drafting the year 2 study plans, which will also be distributed in February for review and comment. The year 2 study plans will be distributed to all four TWGs as well as the parties to the 1991 agreement.

10/22/21

Now that our first year of field work has been completed, the project owners have initiated the study planning process for next year. In 2022, the project owners plan on continuing some of the aquatics studies that were initiated this year as well as conducting new studies that will focus on other resource areas including terrestrial, recreation, and cultural resources. With that in mind, the project owners have established three new Technical Work Groups (TWGs) for each of the new focus areas. The following entities are currently participating in one or more of the TWGs.

  • Native Village of Eklutna (aquatics, terrestrial, recreation, cultural)
  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game (aquatics, terrestrial, recreation)
  • Alaska Department of Natural Resources – Chugach State Park (recreation)
  • Alaska Department of Natural Resources – Office of History and Archaeology (cultural)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (aquatics, terrestrial, cultural)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (aquatics)
  • Trout Unlimited (aquatics, recreation)
  • Alaska Pacific University (aquatics, terrestrial)
  • Hydropower Project Owners (aquatics, terrestrial, recreation, cultural)

10/08/21

The study flow releases ended earlier this week on October 6. The project owners are happy to report that our field crews successfully collected data at established transects throughout the Eklutna River during each of the study flow releases. Additional transects in the river were surveyed before and after the study flow releases to examine how sediment would move under various flows. As expected, a large portion of the accumulated sediment from behind the lower dam site was mobilized and transported downstream by the study flow releases. Time-lapse videos of the sediment wedge can be viewed here. However, no significant sediment deposition or scour was observed at the downstream highway or railroad bridges, and no public safety incidents were reported. The project team will now start analyzing the data that was collected this year and start drafting study reports.

09/17/21

After replacing the drainage outlet gate at the spillway, consulting with the downstream landowners, and obtaining all of the necessary permits and authorizations, the project owners initiated the study flow releases earlier this week. Drone footage of the flow releases at the dam can be viewed here.

  • Monday, September 13 – Initiated flow releases at 150 cfs
  • Friday, September 24 – Decrease flows to 75 cfs
  • Wednesday, September 29 – Decrease flows to 25 cfs
  • Wednesday, October 6 – Decrease flows to 0 cfs

On September 14, representatives from the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility and the Native Village of Eklutna joined board members and CEOs from Chugach Electric and Matanuska Electric at the Eklutna Canyon campground to observe the study flow releases and learn more about the necessary preparation and expected outcomes of this part of the study program.

09/10/21

During the study planning process, concerns were raised that the study flow releases would result in unusually high flow conditions in the Eklutna River resulting in potentially hazardous conditions. Although there is no official public access to the Eklutna River, the river is still open for fishing, and trespassing to access the river does occur. With that in mind, the project owners have developed a Public Safety Plan in coordination with the Native Village of Eklutna, Eklutna, Inc., Chugach State Park, and the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility. The plan includes placing warning signs at all known access points to the Eklutna River and near the pond upstream of the dam as well as a formal notification of the flow release schedule to all of the project stakeholders, downstream landowners, and Native Village of Eklutna.

The study flow releases are also likely to mobilize and transport a large portion of the accumulated sediment from behind the lower dam site. Both the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and the Alaska Railroad Corporation have expressed concern that the sediment would deposit downstream near their respective bridges and potentially cause negative impacts. The project owners reviewed all relevant available data and did not anticipate any negative impacts to downstream infrastructure. However, out of an abundance of caution, the project owners will monitor the streambed near the highway and railroad bridges daily during the study flow releases for any unanticipated sediment deposition or scour that would be cause for concern.

09/03/21

Last month, in order to remove the remaining rocks and debris and replace the drainage outlet gate at the dam, a cofferdam was constructed between the spillway walls on the upstream side of the dam and the area between the cofferdam and the drainage outlet gate was dewatered. The project owners coordinated with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game regarding fish protection measures during the dewatering. The project owners are happy to report that the remaining rocks and debris were successfully removed, and the drainage outlet gate has been replaced. The new gate will be used to release controlled flows into the Eklutna River for study purposes this later this month. In order to prepare for the study flow releases and to make sure the lake level gets high enough, the project owners have also reduced generation at the Eklutna Power Plant for the past several months.

06/11/21

Two of the primary studies being conducted this year are an instream flow study and a geomorphology/sediment transport study. Both of these studies require our team to establish transects (cross sections) in the river for data collection. The project team conducted a site visit with the Technical Work Group (TWG) this week to establish those exact transect locations. The following entities from the TWG participated in the site visit.

  • Native Village of Eklutna
  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Alaska Pacific University
  • Hydropower Project Owners

In order to collect data for both the instream flow and geomorphology/sediment transport studies, the project owners are planning to use the drainage outlet gate at the base of the spillway in the dam to release specific flows into the river this fall. However, this gate is not used on a regular basis and a large pile of rocks and debris had accumulated in front of it over the years. The project owners hired a team of divers to remove the rocks from the front of the gate so we could inspect the gate and determine if it was operational to conduct the study flows. The rock and debris removal was initiated this week and is scheduled to be completed in August. Upon inspection, there was some concern that the gate was not in good enough condition to conduct the flow releases this fall, so the decision was made to replace the gate in August at the same time as the remaining rock and debris are removed.

05/14/21

The project owners are happy to report that we have received letters from each of the parties to the 1991 agreement officially concurring with the scope of work in the study plans. Following the process outlined by the four state agencies involved in the project (Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities), the state concurrence letters and the Proposed Final Study Plans were also sent to the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) as the governor’s representative for review. The AEA provided no additional comments, and the study plans were finalized in May. The Final Study Plans are now available on the documents page of this website, and field work will be initiated later this month.

03/24/21

After receiving comments from the Technical Work Group (TWG) and others on the Draft Study Plans, the Project Owners held multiple meetings with the TWG in November and December 2020 to discuss their comments. The Project Owners then revised the study plans based on all comments received, and distributed the Revised Draft Study Plans to the TWG on January 18, 2021 for a second round of review and comment. Another meeting with the TWG was held on January 25, 2021 to review the major revisions to the study plans and to answer any clarifying questions from the TWG before the comment deadline on January 29, 2021. The Project Owners revised the study plans again to address the second round of comments from the TWG, and then distributed the Proposed Final Study Plans to the Parties to the 1991 Fish and Wildlife Agreement on February 24, 2021 for review and concurrence. The Project Owners are currently working to obtain all necessary permits and authorizations for the planned summer field work season.

12/17/20

In September 2020 the project owners’ technical team held several meetings with the TWG to establish a study program framework. The project owners then developed Draft Study Plans and distributed them to the TWG on October 26, 2020 for review and comment. The comment deadline was November 25, 2020. A subsequent TWG meeting was held on November 30, 2020 to review the TWG’s comments on the Draft Study Plans. The project owners continue to work with the TWG to address their comments and finalize the study plans by early next year.

09/16/20

Earlier this year the project owners’ acquired aerial imagery, spherical videography, and LiDAR of the entire Eklutna River as well as the northeastern shoreline of Eklutna Lake along the lakeside trail. The spherical videography is now available online at https://biglook360.com/eklutna/. Segments 1-7 show the river and lake shoreline going upstream at a higher altitude, while segments 8-14 are going downstream at a lower altitude. The imagery, videography, and LiDAR will be utilized during the ongoing study planning process this year and during subsequent study implementation.  

08/17/20

In June 2020 a Technical Work Group (TWG) was established for study planning purposes. The TWG consists of technical experts and representatives from the following entities:

  • Native Village of Eklutna
  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Alaska Pacific University
  • Alaska Institute for Climate and Energy
  • Hydropower Project Owners

The first TWG meeting was conducted on July 15 in preparation for a site reconnaissance that was conducted the following week. The purpose of the site reconnaissance was to further familiarize the utilities’ technical experts with the existing conditions in the Eklutna River and surrounding area. Immediately following the site reconnaissance, a second TWG meeting was conducted on July 23 to kick off the study planning process. Over the next few months, the utilities’ technical experts will be working with the TWG to develop study plans, which are expected to be finalized and submitted to the Governor by the end of the year.

06/01/20

On Thursday April 16, 2020, a meeting was held with agencies and interested parties to review preliminary comments on the Draft Initial Information Package (IIP), discuss information needs, and establish a technical work group (TWG) for study planning. Meeting minutes are available on the Documents page of this website under Final Documents. The comment deadline for the Draft IIP was April 24, 2020. All submitted comments are also available on the Documents page of this website under Comments on Draft Documents. The project owners are currently reviewing all submitted comments and will address them in the Final IIP. A site reconnaissance is planned for the week of June 15 to further familiarize the owners’ team with the existing conditions in the Eklutna River and surrounding area. The owners have reached out to those who agreed or volunteered to participate in the TWG to confirm their interest. The first TWG meeting will be scheduled shortly after the site reconnaissance. The owners’ team is also acquiring aerial imagery, videography, and LiDAR this spring which will be made available to the TWG for study planning purposes.

04/03/20

On March 24, 2020, the project owners uploaded the Draft Initial Information Package (IIP) to the Documents page of the project website for review and comment. A meeting with agencies and interested parties is scheduled for Thursday April 16, 2020 to review any preliminary comments on the Draft IIP, agree on information needs, and establish one or more technical workgroups for study planning. Comments on the Draft IIP can be submitted to Samantha Owen via email at owen@mcmjac.com and are due by Friday April 24, 2020. The project owners will review all submitted comments and address them in the Final IIP.

11/14/19

During the last week of August, the owners’ team conducted a site reconnaissance of the Eklutna River. The primary goal was to provide the project owners’ technical and regulatory staff with the chance to review and observe site conditions and project facilities. In addition, the site reconnaissance allowed technical staff to assess the potential scope of study efforts needed to provide the Governor and his/her staff with data to establish the Fish and Wildlife Program required by the 1991 Fish and Wildlife Agreement. For more information, please reference the trip report which can be found on the Documents page of this website under Final Documents.

08/14/19

The project owners held a technical group follow-up meeting on July 16, 2019 to promote discussion amongst the resource agencies and interested parties. At the meeting, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Eklutna Inc. and the Native Village of Eklutna each presented a summary of some of their ongoing studies and data collection that are currently being conducted in the Eklutna River basin. In addition, the owners presented some additional project details and summarized the comments received from agencies and interested parties thus far. During the last week of August, the owners’ team will be conducting a site reconnaissance of the Eklutna River to become familiar with the existing habitat and surrounding area.

    05/07/19

    In March and April 2019, the project owners initiated the consultation process by meeting with state and federal agencies and other interested parties to introduce the program development team, review the requirements of the 1991 Fish & Wildlife Agreement, present the anticipated schedule, and listen to any preliminary issues or concerns.

    The owners met with the following entities:

    • Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)
    • Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC)
    • Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR)
      — Division of Mining, Land, and Water
      — Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR)
      — Office of History and Archaeology (OHA)
    • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
    • Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU)
    • Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF)
    • Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC)
    • Native Village of Eklutna
    • Eklutna Inc.
    • The Conservation Fund

    CONTACT US

    Thank you for your interest in the development of the Eklutna Fish & Wildlife Program.

    If you have any questions regarding the project or program development, please complete the provided form, and a member of our team will get back to you.