Groundwater Well Management Plan

Drawdown of the J.C. Boyle, Iron Gate, and Copco reservoirs may affect groundwater levels in the immediate vicinity of the reservoirs. KRRC has developed a Groundwater Well Management Plan, Appendix N of the Definite Plan, to avoid and mitigate such impacts.

Background

The Groundwater Well Management Plan identifies groundwater wells that may be adversely impacted following dam decommissioning and reservoir drawdown. The plan calls for monitoring to understand the effects, if any, on groundwater levels and quality. If it is determined that the project could adversely affect the production of groundwater wells, KRRC would undertake measures (e.g., well deepening) to return the production rate of any affected domestic or irrigation groundwater supply well to conditions prior to dam decommissioning. KRRC would be responsible for the costs of appropriate measures to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate for those impacts in compliance with the requirements of regulatory approvals.

There are five steps in this plan:

  1. Database search and agency coordination to identify wells that may be impacted
  2. Outreach to landowners and residents to arrange site visits
  3. Installation of groundwater monitoring equipment in existing wells or construction of new monitoring wells using a “sentinel well” approach to obtain a representative sample of groundwater levels and conditions (“Phase One”)
  4. Perform groundwater monitoring one year before and up to one year following dam removal or until groundwater levels have stabilized (“Phase Two”)
  5. Post-dam removal outreach/notification of findings
  6. Mitigation (as necessary) to protect well production

Groundwater Monitoring

At this time, KRRC is initiating Phase One of a groundwater monitoring effort to better understand the local groundwater flow conditions. This will help KRRC (as well as regulatory agencies) evaluate which wells are most likely to be impacted by our project. During Phase One, KRRC will employ a “sentinel well” approach, meaning that we will monitor wells distributed around the three project reservoirs to obtain a representative sample of groundwater levels and conditions. Please note that groundwater well mitigation will not be limited to those who have volunteered to have their wells monitored. Any well – even those not monitored directly – that are shown to be impacted by KRRC’s project are eligible for mitigation.

In Phase Two, KRRC will conduct additional outreach and may initiate monitoring of additional wells to gather baseline information for at least one year before reservoir drawdown and up to one year following dam removal to measure how groundwater is impacted by the process of reservoir drawdown.

Do you have a well near Copco, Iron Gate, or JC Boyle Reservoirs?

We are seeking volunteers to participate in Phase One of the monitoring program, which will begin summer of 2018. Please Contact Us if you would like KRRC to monitor your well or fill out the questionnaire. We also welcome submissions of the questionnaire even if you are not volunteering for monitoring at this time, as the data is useful for our study.

It appears more and more likely that Copco Lake will disappear and the river channel will reestablish the current lakebed. KRRC is committed to mitigating as many of the impacts to us property owners  is reasonably feasible including bank stablization where needed, any drop in water levels, repairing roads, and upgrading bridges. As much as my wife and I love our lakeside setting, we believe everyone should begin identifying potential impacts to their property and request KRRC staff to evaluate their concerns and monitor well levels etc. so that we are prepared, and hopefully any impacts (beyond the lake being gone) are fully addressed as part of the overall lake removal process. We have invited KRRC staff to monitor our two wells for any water level drop that may occur with lake drawdown. We urge you to do the same in order to protect your interests. It might be hard to argue about an impact if you have not protected yourself by requiring baseline data.

Kenneth Burger

Landowner at Copco Reservoir

Dave Meurer, KRRC’s Community Liaison, left, visits Kenneth Burger, landowner at Copco Reservoir, right.

If the proposed project is implemented, it is essential that adequate mitigation occur to make landowners in Siskiyou County whole for the impacts associated with groundwater. An upcoming groundwater evaluation from KRRC is necessary to ensure that your interests are protected if the project is implemented. . . In order to determine if a landowner’s well has been impacted, KRRC will need to obtain information on the current groundwater elevations in the areas surrounding the proposed project. Collecting pre-project, or baseline data, is a crucial step in properly evaluating a project’s impact on the environment and your property. Without baseline data, it may be impossible for KRRC to adequately compensate landowner’s for their loss of, or reduced access to, groundwater. Therefore, these landowners should consider the importance of KRRC accessing property to study current groundwater levels and conditions.

SWCA Environmental Consultants

Consultant to Siskiyou County

Groundwater Well Management Plan Q&A

Will reservoir drawdown affect wells downstream of Iron Gate?

Because Klamath River water levels are not anticipated to appreciably change with dam decommissioning, domestic groundwater wells
adjacent to the current Klamath River or its tributaries are not anticipated to be affected by removal of the dams and associated reservoirs. Water releases to the river are controlled upstream at Link River Dam by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). BOR will continue to control river flow, which translates to river water level or “stage,” after dam removal.

However, KRRC is responding to community concerns by monitoring “sentinel wells” below Iron Gate.

What are the specific measures that KRRC would undertake in the short-term and in the long-term to mitigate for impacts to private wells?

KRRC is currently undertaking studies to better understand the groundwater in the project area and possible solutions to mitigate any potential impacts. If it is determined that the Project could adversely affect the production of groundwater wells, KRRC would undertake and be responsible for the costs of appropriate measures to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate for those impacts, in compliance with the requirements of regulatory approvals.

Specific measures that KRRC would undertake have not yet been determined at this early stage of regulatory review of the Project. While measures will be evaluated based on site specific conditions, options for mitigations could include well deepening to maintain the production rate of any affected domestic or irrigation groundwater supply well, drilling a new well with a similar rate of production, providing surface water supply, or other options to be evaluated.

Should a short-term solution be needed before a permanent solution is put in place, KRRC would also be responsible for providing this. Options could include providing temporary water to affected homes by connecting home water supply systems to potable water tanks (ensuring systems are properly pressurized and functional), providing compensation for a nearby accommodation, or others to be evaluated.

What groundwater quality characteristics will KRRC test for and monitor?

KRRC will measure baseline information on general water quality parameters including pH, conductivity, and major anions and cations (sodium, calcium, chloride, potassium, etc.) and also measure these same parameters after drawdown. While we don’t anticipate changes in water quality, KRRC plans to perform this due diligence in order to detect any changes that might occur after drawdown for those wells which may be affected by reservoir drawdown.

Will KRRC be responsible for costs related to the impact of drawdown on wells?

KRRC will take care of this financially and operationally and intends to leave property owners whole with respect to groundwater well
production. KRRC will cover all costs of monitoring groundwater wells and implementing mitigation measures if needed.

If I do not participate in the groundwater monitoring program, will I be ineligible for mitigation?

Groundwater well mitigation will not be limited to those who have volunteered to have their wells monitored. Any wells – even those not monitored directly – that are shown to be impacted by KRRC’s Project are eligible for mitigation.

Will sediments released during drawdown contaminate private wells?

During reservoir sediment release, there will be high concentrations of suspended sediment within the Klamath River, but suspended sediment will not impact downstream private wells, if these wells are properly designed to prevent the direct intake of surface water from the Klamath River. Groundwater wells are separated from the water in the river by layers of soil and rock that prevent the
migration of suspended sediment. Similarly, when algae currently grows in the river during summer months, it does not contaminate groundwater wells because layers of soil and rock act as a filter to prevent migration of algae.

Further, accumulated sediment within the reservoir has been tested, and no exceedances of human health or drinking water standards have been detected that differ from background sediments around the reservoirs.