A: The Leaburg Canal Strategic Evaluation Team has identified four alternatives to study in further detail. Each alternative places the safety of EWEB employees and the community as its highest priority. The alternatives will help EWEB Commissioners decide the ultimate fate of the Leaburg Project, whether it is “returned-to-service” or decommissioned and used solely for “stormwater conveyance.” Of the four alternatives, two are on opposite ends of the “stormwater conveyance” vs. “return-to-service” spectrum.
A: A new powerhouse at the Luffman Spillway would generate less power.
The Leaburg Project works by the canal carrying the water at about the same elevation for 5 miles down the valley, while the river descends in elevation. When the water falls through the Canal Forebay to the Powerhouse at the end of the canal, it has a drop of over 80 feet and generates up to 15 Megawatts (MW). That drop is called the “head,” and the greater the head, the more power hydroelectricity facilities generate. The head at Luffman Spillway would only be about a 35ft. drop and generate about 6.2MW, so the same amount of water would produce less power.
A: We would not need to rebuild the dam. We would need to continue investing in the dam to maintain its reliability, but not reconstruct it. In a couple of locations along the dam we need to do some seismic reinforcement, but for the most part, the dam is in good shape.
A: That would be an element of our triple bottom line consideration. Since hydropower is a low-carbon source of power, EWEB would evaluate the benefit of keeping the project in operation with our goal of providing our customers with a 95% carbon-free electricity portfolio. There are, of course, environmental impacts associated with hydropower, which will also be evaluated as part of our Triple Bottom Line assessment.
A: We are looking into options including federal, state and county funding. EWEB has recently hired a grant writer to help identify and apply for funding for infrastructure projects.