Masters Thesis

The Don Pedro Project and the integrated licensing process: a process analysis of stakeholder participation in reservoir relicensing

Numerous dams in Sierra Nevada watersheds are due for relicensing, now and in the upcoming years. The relicensing process is an opportunity to assess the impacts and values of individual reservoirs and water projects. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who issues the licenses, developed and introduced the Integrated Licensing Process in the last 10 years. The FERC has previously favored energy and water production as the best use of rivers, but environmental legislation requires the FERC to give “equal consideration” to multiple river users. Thus, the new process involves more stakeholder participation and greater consideration of multiple river needs. In the Sierra Nevada foothills in California, most rivers have dams on them; many of these are coming up for relicensing in the next 10 years. Using the ongoing relicensing of the Don Pedro Reservoir on the Tuolumne River as a case study, this research assesses the collaborative potential of the Integrated Licensing Process. How well does the Integrated Licensing Process enable meaningful participation and collaboration? Using content analysis and semi-structured interview, the research explores opportunities and obstacles to collaboration in Don Pedro ILP. This can help civic and agency stakeholders interested in preparing for their own upcoming relicensing project. Further research could involve similar research on other watersheds, and comparison across cases.