Drawdown Program

Ms. Kimberly Bose, Secretary

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426

August 6, 2012

Re: Appalachian Power Company
Claytor Hydroelectric Project No. 739
License Article 405 — Reservoir Drawdown

Dear Secretary Bose:

On December 27, 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) issued its Order Issuing New License for the Claytor Hydroelectric Project No. 739. Article 405 of the license requires that Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) file with the Commission, for approval, a reservoir drawdown plan at least three (3) months prior to implementing a non-emergency reservoir drawdown. Friends of Claytor Lake (FOCL) and Pulaski County have requested that Appalachian conduct a non-emergency drawdown of the Claytor reservoir during Fall 2012 in order to allow for shoreline property owners to perform shoreline maintenance and construction activities. Enclosed for Commission approval is a proposed drawdown plan for a non-emergency drawdown starting Wednesday, November 7, 2012.

The proposed plan was provided to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR), Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), Pulaski County, New River Valley Planning District Committee, and Friends of Claytor Lake (FOCL) on June 16, 2012 for review and comment. Comments were received from FWS, VDGIF, VDCR, VDEQ, Pulaski County and FOCL. Copies of comments are provided with this filing.

FWS indicated that at this time they will not be reviewing FERC projects in Virginia unless there is a federally listed species involved.

VDGIF provided recommended changes to the wording in the plan and the plan has been revised to reflect those changes.

VDCR indicated agreement with the plan. They did ask whether there was discussion about how this drawdown could be used for downstream recreational floating. Appalachian will still be operating Claytor in levelized flow mode during the drawdown period and the reservoir will be lowered at a steady rate of one foot per day. A press release will be issued so that downstream users know that flows will be higher than inflow during this period.

VDEQ did not have any comments at this time.

FOCL indicated agreement with the 2012 drawdown plan but also requested that drawdowns deeper than three feet be considered in the future if mussel impacts and/or mitigation allow. Pulaski County’s Board of Supervisors supports the drawdown, but unanimously stated their belief that an annual five-foot drawdown with a deeper drawdown of eight to ten feet to be done approximately every five years would be best for the lake. Modifying this year’s proposed drawdown would not be feasible as it would require additional consultation and potentially additional monitoring and mitigation. For this year’s drawdown, Appalachian believes that the drawdown plan being proposed best balances the protection of the aquatic resources with the landowner’s desire to do maintenance along the shoreline.

Appalachian believes that the information provided is in conformance with Article 405 of its license. If there are any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Teresa P. Rogers Process Supervisor I

Enclosure

Xc: Frank Simms — Appalachian Power Company DISTRIBUTION LIST

———————————————

Administration

143 Third Street, NW, Suite 1 Pulaski, Virginia 24301

  

August 6, 2012

Teresa Rogers, Process Supervisors I Appalachian Power Company

Dear Ms. Rogers:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Claytor Lake Drawdown Plan as is being proposed for consideration by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In considering the benefit of the drawdown to residents and property owners along Claytor Lake, the Board of Supervisors unanimously stated their strong believe at the July 23, 2012 meeting that an annual five-foot drawdown with a deeper drawdown of eight to ten feet to be done approximately every five years would be best for the lake.

This request is made in recognition and support of the significant improvement historically made by Claytor Lake property owners in developing and protecting the shoreline. The more extensive drawdowns, as advocated by the Board, give property owners the ability to clear the Lake of discarded fishing tackle, bottles, cans, car tires, sunken fuel tanks, ha2ardous material drums and other accumulated debris from a larger portion of the lake. A minimum 5-foot drawdown also makes it possible to economically install docks, to readily install or rebuild improvements protecting the shoreline, and to address siltation which is the most serious problem in the Lake for both residents and for Appalachian. The use of significant drawdowns has allowed the lake to thrive and has served to protect the mussel population by controlling shoreline erosion.

Unlike most other lakes, the upland areas along the shores of Claytor Lake are generally too steep to allow vehicle access along the shoreline. However, residents generally have one point of access for putting boats in and out of the water. A five-foot drawdown generally allows sufficient space for backhoes and repair equipment to use these points of access to get to the shoreline then to travel along the shoreline along the entire frontage. A three-foot drawdown restricts the ability to use the area uncovered by the drawdown to access areas not otherwise directly accessible. We also understand that the State threatened Pistol Grip Mussel is not native to lake environments and that it is generally located at depths greater than five feet.

We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Drawdown Plan and very much appreciate the partnership between Pulaski County and Appalachian Power Company for the betterment of Claytor Lake. The Board of Supervisors has worked closely with Appalachian in the development and enforcement of the new shoreline management program and the board requests the assistance Applachian Power Company and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in providing drawdown levels adequate for the long-term health of Claytor Lake as we look to continuing improvements in water quality while maintaining full storage capabilities for the next 50 years or longer.

Sincerely,

Peter M. Huber,

County Administrator

cc:       Pulaski County Board of Supervisors

—————————————————————

July 23, 2012

Teresa Rogers
Appalachian Power Company
40 Franklin Road
Roanoke, Virginia 24011

Dear Teresa,

FOCL appreciates Appalachian’s willingness to consider having drawdowns to provide much needed opportunities for shoreline maintenance.  FOCL representatives participated with the Claytor Lake Technical Advisory Committee (CLTAC) in consultation with Appalachian on the drawdown plan, and FOCL is in agreement with the plan as distributed on July 16, 2012.

As outlined in the plan for 2012, FOCL will help with public education about mussels, publicize drawdown with Appalachian, develop a revised questionnaire, assist with mussel salvage, and collect and report data to Appalachian.  FOCL would like to continue to participate with Appalachian and the CLTAC in discussion and implementation of future drawdowns.

Based on responses from the Claytor Lake community, FOCL does support the proposal for drawdowns every other year.  Because of the varied and steep terrain around the lake, a number of property owners also report that three foot drawdowns are insufficient for them to access the shoreline for needed maintenance.   Therefore, FOCL would like to request that if mussel impacts and/or mitigation allow, drawdowns deeper than three feet also be considered in the future.

Thank you, again, for working with Claytor Lake stakeholders to continue drawdowns.

Regards

Laura Walters
President Friends of Claytor Lake

—————————————————–

Re: Claytor Hydroelectric Project No. 739
2012 Reservoir Drawdown Plan
July 16, 2012

Dear Sir and Madam:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Appalachian Power Company a license to operate the Claytor Hydroelectric Project December 27, 2011. As part of the approved Water Management Plan, Appalachian Power Company
may provide consideration of non-emergency drawdowns upon mutual agreement between the licensee and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), in conjunction with consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR), Pulaski County, the New River Planning District Committee, and FOCL (Order Issuing New License, Dec 27, 2011, Article 405), following appropriate public input as determined by VDEQ. FERC approval is also required.

At least three months prior to implementing a non-emergency reservoir drawdown, Appalachian Power Company is required to file with FERC, for approval, a reservoir drawdown plan. The purpose of the drawdown plan is (1) to minimize the impact of any project maintenance activity requiring a reservoir drawdown to aquatic resources in the project reservoir and downstream of the project and (2) to allow shoreline property owners sufficient time to plan shoreline maintenance activities. The plan filed with FERC is to be prepared in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, VDEQ, VDGIF, VDCR, Pulaski County, New River Planning Commission, and FOCL.

Enclosed, please find a copy of a drawdown plan for 2012 for your review and comment. This plan was prepared following extensive consultation with the members of the Pulaski County’s Claytor Lake Technical Advisory Committee. In order to meet the required filing date with the Commission, I respectfully request your expedited comments by August 3, 2012. If meeting this deadline is a problem, please contact me as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or need additional information,

Sincerely,

Teresa P. Rogers

Process Supervisor I

————————————————————

CLAYTOR LAKE DRAWDOWN PLAN

The drawdown plan background

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Appalachian Power Company a license to operate the Claytor Hydroelectric Project December 27, 2011. As part of the approved Water Management Plan, Appalachian Power Company may provide consideration of non-emergency drawdowns upon mutual agreement between the licensee and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR), Pulaski County, the New River Planning District Committee, and FOCL (Order Issuing New License, Dec 27, 2011, Article 405), following appropriate public input as determined by VDEQ. FERC approval is also required.

At least three months prior to implementing a non-emergency reservoir drawdown, Appalachian Power Company is required to file with FERC, for approval, a reservoir drawdown plan. The purpose of the drawdown plan is (1) to minimize the impact of any project maintenance activity requiring a reservoir drawdown to aquatic resources in the project reservoir and downstream of the project and (2) to allow shoreline property owners sufficient time to plan shoreline maintenance activities. The plan filed with FERC is to be prepared in consultation with the FWS, VDEQ, VDGIF, VDCR, Pulaski County, New River Planning Commission, and FOCL.

The drawdown plan

The plan for drawdown is a work in progress to develop a long-term mitigation plan that measures impacts on mussels as Appalachian adjusts what has been done in previous drawdowns to minimize impacts to mussels while still allowing for shoreline maintenance by property owners. Efforts began in 2011 through the Pulaski County’s Claytor Lake Technical Advisory Committee (CLTAC) to modify the drawdown to decrease impacts to mussels. (See Appendix A for details on the CLTAC.) Below is a description of the efforts undertaken in 2011, details of the proposed drawdown for 2012, and a description of how information obtained during the 2012 drawdown will be used to inform future drawdown requests. Appendix A contains background information on mussels at Claytor and historic information on the drawdown.

PHASE 1 Modified Drawdown (Completed November 2011)

  1. Request from FOCL for a drawdown in early November. (Drawdown scheduled during early November to avoid freezing temperatures, but also to minimize the impact to recreation.)
  2. Depth of drawdown was three feet from 1846 foot elevation. (Depth reduced from the previous depth of five feet.)
  3. Duration of the drawdown was nine days, including two weekends. (Duration was reduced from the previous time of sixteen days, including three weekends.)
  4. Lake level drawn down one foot per day to 1843 feet NGVD.
  5. Appalachian Power Company through FOCL publicized information on the drawdown to their membership, other property owners and the public.
  6. Information gathered on the number of people using the drawdown.

PHASE 1 (2011) Results

  1. The 100 plus respondents to the FOCL questionnaire represented 41,296 feet of shoreline. Thirty plus percent found no mussels. Approximately 40 percent found approximately 6962+ mussels (some of these were described as tiny, which leads us to believe that they are the invasive Asian clam species). All responders were encouraged to place the discovered mussels in the water. One group that had identification skills identified 1288 giant floaters, and 807 paperpond shells, and placed them into the water. The balance of responders did not comment on mussel placement in the water.
  2. Lessons learned:
    1. More education in mussel and Asian clam identification is needed.
    2. The next drawdown questionnaire needs to be refined to collect better data.
    3. The next drawdown needs to include a Claytor Lake Mussel Survey done by qualified individuals on a quantitative and qualitative basis to better determine an appropriate level of mitigation.

PHASE 2 (2012 and future drawdowns)

  1. Continue the 2011 Phase I modified drawdown requirements (i.e., schedule for early November, three foot depth from 1846′ NGVD (elevation can fluctuate between 1842′ and 1843′), duration of nine days, and lower elevation down one foot per day to 1843 feet.) In addition, future drawdowns will be proposed every other year instead of annually (i.e., the next drawdown would not be requested until 2014.)
  2. The 2012 drawdown is scheduled as follows:
    1. Begin lowering elevation one foot per day starting on Wednesday, November 7 at 8 am.
    2. Have elevation at 1843′ by 8 am on Saturday, November 10, 2012.
    3. Start allowing reservoir to refill on the evening of Sunday, November 18, 2012.
    4. Target reservoir to be back to normal elevation by the evening of Wednesday, November 21, 2012, prior to Thanksgiving holiday.
  3. FOCL, Pulaski County and DGIF to provide additional public education on mussels and Asian clams through educational literature, newsletters and meetings. Information to include directions on counting, returning and reporting mussels stranded during drawdown to the water as well as how to report the number of mussels moved to deeper water.
  4. Appalachian Power Company to work with FOCL and Pulaski County to publicize drawdown to all property owners along the shoreline at least 45 days prior to the drawdown.
  5. FOCL to rework the drawdown questionnaire to better insure the collection of accurate data and provide a summary report to Appalachian.
  6. Mitigation for 2012 will also include increased mussel salvage during the drawdown. Increasing mussel salvage and maintaining the modified drawdown will reduce the number of mussels killed due to the drawdown, as well as increase the likelihood of determining if the state threatened pistolgrip is being impacted by the modified drawdown. Volunteer efforts would be focused on broader sweeps for mussel salvage, which would help in determining if the state threatened pistol grip is being impacted by the modified drawdown. If impacted, mitigation for pistolgrip must be considered for future drawdown requests, which could include further modifications to the drawdown and /or direct conservation work. It is Appalachian’s understanding that by developing an acceptable drawdown plan, including mitigation, that is approved by the agencies and agreed upon by Appalachian, then VDGIF will be able to consent to the drawdown as an active partner in the Claytor Lake Technical Advisory Committee and in accordance with the Virginia Water Protection Permit and the existing FERC License. Refer to Appendix A for details on the CLTAC.
  7. The survey results from 2012 will be used by VDGIF to determine whether further mitigation is needed as part of future drawdown requests. If so, additional remediation measures will be proposed by the VDGIF. Any needed funding will be identified. The mitigation plan may include specific mitigation for the threatened pistolgrip.
  8. Regulatory agencies will approve any required mitigation plan and the CLTAC will then seek funding and coordinate implementing any further steps.
  9. If the regulatory agencies approve the plan and required funding is identified, Appalachian will file the revised drawdown plan with FERC as part of future requests for drawdown approvals. Included with the filing will be documentation of consultation with stakeholders as required in the FERC license.
  10. Future drawdown plans will be based on the previous year’s results, and the drawdown plan will be revised as appropriate. The revised plan will include, at a minimum, the following:
  • An evaluation of the steps taken to date to lessen the impact of the drawdown on mussels.
  • A summary of data collected
  • Any additional steps, modifications, and /or any mitigation efforts needed in order to continue future drawdowns.
  1. 11. The drawdown may be cancelled on short notice should it be determined that inflows are insufficient to refill the                reservoir in a timely manner.
  2. 12. It is understood that if survey results indicate unacceptable impacts to mussels as determined in consultation with the various resource agencies or if an acceptable mitigation plan can not be developed, future drawdowns may not be requested.

Appendix A: Background on Drawdowns

History of drawdowns at Claytor Lake

Annual drawdowns of Claytor Lake have been a long-standing practice of Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) to allow for shoreline maintenance and construction activities. During the last eleven years (since 2001), drawdowns occurred in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011. Drawdowns were usually five feet decreasing the lake level to an elevation of 1841 feet, though at times drawdowns were as much as eight feet. They generally occurred in November or December and lasted about two weeks, including three weekends.

Why do citizens want drawdowns?

Drawdown affords property owners the opportunity to accomplish maintenance activities which contribute to erosion and sedimentation control, removal of debris from the lake, and maintenance of the condition, value, and safety of shoreline structures. A survey of lake owners by the Recreation Assessment Study as part of Appalachian Power Company license application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) found that 75% of respondents reported using drawdown for trash and debris removal, dock and facilities maintenance, and shoreline stabilization (December 2008, p 70).

Citizens responding to information requests from FOCL (Friends of Claytor Lake) indicated their reasons for needing the drawdown. There were approximately 100+ responses to a FOCL post card representing approximately 41,000 feet of exposed shoreline. Respondents listed the following reasons to drawdown the lake on a periodic basis:

  • Perform dock maintenance
  • Repair bulkheads
  • Install and stabilize rip rap
  • Clean up debris and trash
  • Remove hydrilla
  • Remove logs
  • Remove and repair wire barrels

.        Stabilize and repair wooden and stone seawalls

.        Repair concrete

  • Repair boat ramps

What are the environmental impacts of the drawdowns?

Drawdowns leave freshwater mussels on dry land, exposing them to increased animal and bird predation, and temperature extremes.

Appendix A: Background on Drawdowns

What are freshwater mussels?

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) “freshwater mussels are mollusks and are similar to their marine clam and oyster cousins. They have two shells connected by a hinge-like ligament”.

What are the benefits of fresh water mussels?

Mussels filter bacteria, algae, and other small particles through their siphoning actions, which makes them one of the few animals that improve water quality. They are also a food source for many species of fish, birds, reptiles, and, mammals. Mussels can also be an early warning system for the environment because they respond to changes in the water quality. Gradual mussel die-offs or sudden mussel kills are reliable indicators of water pollution problems. Stable, diverse populations indicate clean water and a healthy aquatic environment.

Why are we concerned about the mussel population?

The United States has the greatest fresh water mussel population in the world with over 300 species. Since the early 1800’s habitat losses have occurred through channelization, clearing of riparian and streambank vegetation, sedimentation, pollution, and dam construction. It is estimated that 70% (Williams, et al. 1993) of our fresh water mussels are extinct, endangered, or in need of special protection. The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to 81 species, of which only 30 percent are considered stable.

What species are found in Claytor Lake?

There are five species found in Claytor Lake. They are the Giant Floater (Pyganodon grandis), Pocketbook (Lampsilis ovata), Pistolgrip (Tritogonia verrucosa), Paper Pondshell (Utterbackia imbecillis), and Purple Wartyback (Cyclonaias tuberculata). The pistolgrip is currently listed as a state threatened species.

Appendix A: Background on Drawdowns

How do mussels reproduce?

The life cycle of freshwater mussels is an intricate process that is fairly unique when compared to that of other organisms. Spawning begins with the release of sperm from the excurrent aperture of mature males. As the sperm passively drift with the currents, they enter females through their incurrent aperture. Within sexually mature females, fertilization takes place in the suprabranchial cavity and the resulting embryos are retained in the marsupial gills until they develop into mature parasitic larvae called glochidia. Glochidia are obligate parasites and must attach to suitable host fishes, attaching to their gills, fins, or scales depending on the species of mussel. After attaching to a suitable host fish, the glochidia encyst and metamorphosis into juveniles. Metamorphosis generally occurs over a period of one to three weeks, but can last for a few months. Once metamorphosis is complete, the juvenile mussel drops from the host fish and settles into the surrounding substratum where, if conditions are suitable, growth until sexual maturity will occur and the reproductive cycle is repeated. It is important to note that drawdowns every year may harm the juvenile population and should be avoided to promote continuation of the mussel population.

Appendix A: Background on Drawdowns

How do we control the impact on the environment?

The first step is to develop a plan that makes Appalachian compliant with all regulatory requirements of Federal and State agencies as they relate to the mussel issues, their impacts, and the good of Claytor Lake. Currently more study is needed to determine a mitigation proposal sufficient to offset impacts of the drawdown on freshwater mussels.

How do we understand the issues, applicable laws and regulations, and best practices for Claytor Lake?

The Claytor Lake Technical Advisory Committee (CLTAC) was formed by the Pulaski County Administrator to advise the county on long-term management of Claytor Lake. The CLTAC is composed of the following public and private sector members with an interest in the well being of Claytor Lake.

Pete Huber Pulaski County Administrator

Teresa Rogers Appalachian Power Company

Mike McLeod Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Bill Kittrell Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

John Copeland Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Brian Watson Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Mike Burchett Rock House Marina Owner and Angler

Chris Doss Claytor Lake State Park

Mark McGlothin Appalachian Power Company

David Gruber Biological Monitoring and Coast Guard Auxiliary

Laura Bullard FOCL and Property Owner

Cheri Strenz FOCL and Property Owner

Jim Kelly Property Owner

Wayne Alexander Appalachian Power Company

Laura Walters President FOCL and Property Owner

Danny Morris Ducks Unlimited and Homebuilder

Troy Phillips Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Larry Bandolin Retired Biologist and Property Owner

Mike Hoffman Friends of Claytor Lake

David Peake Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Darla Jennings Friends of Claytor Lake Executive Director

CLTAC has been meeting on a routine basis since 2010 to understand, discuss, and coordinate appropriate activities to address any issues that impact Claytor Lake and provide coordinated recommendations to insure the well being of Claytor Lake’s future within the framework of State and Federal mandates, regulations, and laws.