A Reno-based utility's plans to build a diversion dam on the Truckee River are drawing opposition from whitewater enthusiasts.
Kayakers and rafters question Sierra Pacific Power Co.'s claims that the dam, planned for a spot east of the California town of Truckee, would benefit them as well as trout.
"It sounds like a joke to me," kayaker Dave Boiano told the Tahoe World. "I don't see how it could benefit kayakers."
If approved, the structure would replace a dam washed away by the New Year's flood of 1997. Plans call for it to be built 600 feet upstream from the old Farad Dam.
The State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento is accepting public comment on the proposal through May 26.
Sierra Pacific officials said that the dam would incorporate an inflatable rubber weir to divert water into a concrete conduit next to the riverbank and that whitewater enthusiasts would be able to ride safely over the top of the weir.
Grouted rock passages for fish would be built along both sides of the dam to accommodate migrations during high- and low-flow periods. A screen would be installed to prevent fish from entering the flume.
Despite steps to minimize the dam's impact, whitewater enthusiasts oppose the project.
Since the dam washed out, Boiano said, four new "play spots" have been created and the river's Floriston section has grown in popularity among kayakers.
Tributary Whitewater Tours owner Daniel Buckley of Grass Valley, Calif., said the dam would hurt his business.
"The only diversion that would help is no diversion," he said. "To continue to access the river is a God-given right as far as I'm concerned."
Friends of the River has expressed concerns, noting that the river supports a significant rainbow trout population and provides habitat for other native species.