SnoPUD Receives 45-Year License for Low-Impact Hydro

Source:  SnoPUD Press Release, October 6, 2011.

Snohomish County PUD recently received a new 45-year license for its Jackson Hydroelectric Project in the Sultan Basin. Under the new license, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the project will continue to implement a range of environmental measures in and around the Spada Lake reservoir and Sultan Basin. In recognition of its significant efforts to protect resources and mitigate the project’s impact, the PUD also has received certification as a “low impact facility” from the Low Impact Hydropower Institute.*

The Jackson Hydroelectric Project is an invaluable community resource that provides more than 4 percent of the utility’s power supply and enough water to meet the needs of 80 percent of Snohomish County’s population.

The new Jackson Project license includes a series of improvements to enhance resources in the Sultan Basin.  The measures were identified through a collaborative process with more than a dozen interested stakeholders, including federal and state agencies, tribal government, municipalities and non-governmental organizations. The PUD will continue to meet with these groups on a quarterly basis to ensure that their input is included in the implementation of these new measures.

The enhancements ensure that the project continues to operate in a cost-effective manner for energy needs and public water supply while protecting fish, wildlife, recreation and cultural resources.  Key measures include:

  • Increased river flows and warmer water temperatures in the reach of the river just below Culmback Dam
  • Creation of diverse habitat conditions for fish with large woody debris and other means
  • Re-connection and enhancement of side channels to the Sultan River to provide additional fish habitat
  • Modification of a natural landslide and the City of Everett’s diversion dam, as needed, to improve fish passage and habitat access above these barriers
  • Periodic releases of large flows to rejuvenate and enhance aquatic habitats and improve sediment transport
  • Continued management of terrestrial habitat for wildlife, including protection of old growth, riparian and wetland areas
  • Management and control of noxious weeds
  • Protection of marbled murrelet habitat
  • Monitoring and protection of historic properties
  • Provisions for scheduled whitewater flows for recreational use
  • Improved boat ramps and recreational sites
  • Conversion of former roadways into hiking trails around Spada Lake
  • Construction of a new recreations site at Culmback Dam as a gateway to public access across the dam
  • New educational and interpretive displays
  • Increased water temperature for releases below Culmback Dam to improve fisheries
  • Additional water quality monitoring and reporting

Jackson Receives Low Impact Certification

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) recently certified the Jackson Hydroelectric Project as a low-impact facility. LIHI certifies dams that adequately protect or mitigate their impacts in eight key resource areas: river flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watersheds, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources or public access and recreational opportunities. It also requires that dams have not been recommended for removal.

*LIHI Certification:

This product includes Low Impact Hydropower from facilities certified by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute (an independent non-profit organization) to have environmental impacts in key areas below levels the Institute considers acceptable for hydropower facilities. For more information about the certification, please see