The North Fork Snoqualmie originates in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness more than 20 miles northeast of Snoqualmie. Canyon Springs is a group of natural springs in the Mount Si foothills, that have provided drinking water for the city of Snoqualmie since the 1950s.
The North Fork Snoqualmie River and Canyon Springs are hydraulically connected; however, the exact location where river water is absorbed into the aquifer has not been determined.
It likely occurs at a natural bend about five miles upstream.
Black Canyon Hydro is proposing to build a dam on the North Fork Snoqualmie that will generate 25 megawatts of electricity.
Their plan is to divert river water into an intake tunnel and drop it vertically 450 feet to generate electricity.
The water would then be piped back out to the main river channel downstream.
The proposed intake site is at that natural bend in the river. Black Canyon is looking to divert up to 900 cubic feet per second (cfs) for electricity generation, reducing the North Fork to a trickle for most of the year.
With little water left in the river, the Canyon Springs Aquifer will be negatively affected.
Black Canyon Hydro needs a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project. As part of the licensing process, FERC required Black Canyon to do a groundwater study on the effects to the Canyon Springs Aquifer.
On June 10, Black Canyon released its study which concluded that “the [proposed dam project] is not likely to interfere with the Canyon Springs water source, water quality, available quantity or operations by the city of Snoqualmie.”
If FERC accepts the conclusion of this flawed report, Black Canyon Hydro will receive permission to apply for its license.
Residents should contact Snoqualmie City Hall and tell the mayor and council to demand a new groundwater study.
The comment period ends on August 9. After that, it will be too late.