June 30, 2018
The corporation created to remove four Klamath River dams that block fish passage and impair river quality has filed its “Definite Plan for the Lower Klamath Project” with the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, or FERC.
The 2,300-page document provides analysis and detail on project design, deconstruction, reservoir restoration and other post-deconstruction activities related to the proposed removal of the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and the Iron Gate dams, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation announced Friday.
The plan was filed Thursday as part of the corporation’s application to FERC for the transfer of the FERC license to operate the dams. The commission will review the definite plan to confirm the corporation has the technical, legal and fiscal capacities to become the licensee.
The dam removal project is currently the largest in U.S. history and is expected to improve water quality, revive fisheries, create local jobs and boost tourism and recreation, according to a KRRC press release.
The Definite Plan addresses KRRC’s plans to manage construction impacts, impacts to groundwater wells, perform flood-proofing, improve roads and bridges, replace a water line in Yreka, protect aquatic resources and provide for ongoing fish hatchery operations, according to the press release. The plan also provides updated information on project costs and risk management.
A panel of experts convened by KRRC, an Independent Board of Consultants, will work with FERC to review and provide guidance on the Definite Plan. Once it receives approval, KRRC will begin site preparations in mid-2020 with dam removal and restoration activities beginning in 2021, according to the press release.
Stakeholders, including federal regulators, the states of California and Oregon, tribes and interest groups, began working towards dam removal in the early 2000s, with a target date of 2020, the Triplicate reported in April.
Stakeholders lobbied Congress from 2010-2016 to pass a bill tying the Klamath dam removal to a water settlement agreement that would have provided millions of federal dollars for river restoration and guaranteed water to in-stream use for fisheries interest and tribes and guaranteed water for agriculture. Congress declined to pass the bill, the Triplicate reported.
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s creation was mandated by the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, signed in Requa by the federal government, the states of California and Oregon and PacifiCorp., owner of the dams.
The reservoirs formed by the four dames slated for removal have contributed to toxic algae blooms that harm fish and make the river dangerous for humans. PacifiCorp determined the cost to retrofit the dams to meet environmental standards — estimated at $400 million — was not preferable for power rate payers. Dam removal is estimated to cost $200 million, the Triplicate reported in November 2017.