Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Klamath River dam removal begins

After nearly two decades of planning, construction recently began on the estimated $450 million Klamath River Renewal Project.  The project involves the simultaneous removal of four dams to restore the second largest river in California.  The project is overseen by the independent nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corporation formed in 2016 to navigate the complex regulatory and legal issues associated with dam removal.

ASCE provides a good technical summary of the project here:  Construction begins on removal of 4 Klamath River dams.  In 2009 we noted that Klamath Dam removal study supports sediment releases, and each of the four dams will utilize natural transport for disposal of the majority of the fine sediment that has accumulated in the reservoirs.  Most of the concrete and other materials will be disposed at or near each of the dam sites.  

The Klamath River suffered a dramatic and notorious fish kill in 2002 when over 34,000 fish, mostly adult fall Chinook salmon, were found dead in the Lower Klamath River. This fish kill was unprecedented for returning adult salmon on the Klamath River, profoundly affecting the Yurok People and other local residents both economically and spiritually.  The river suffered another fish kill following the fires of 2022.  The major contributing factor to unhealthy fisheries in the Lower Klamath River has been the presence of the large reservoirs which accumulate agricultural runoff and fertilizers which heat up in the hot summer months and fuel toxic algae.  Removal of these dams will eliminate the release of this toxic hot water into critical salmon habitat.  Most importantly this project will restore one of the most productive salmon runs in California to benefit the Native American communities who have depended on fisheries for their livelihood, health, and cultural practices since time immemorial. 

Also of interest is the The Klamath Mitigation Fund which "is a voluntary claims-based compensation program in which impacted property owners can participate.  The Fund is designed to provide compensation for specified physical impacts to private properties caused by the Klamath dam removal project. The Fund will be administered by independent Fund Administrators based on criteria established from extensive technical analysis. The Fund Administrators will organize information sessions by potential claim (slope stability, flood risk, and groundwater well impacts) to explain the analysis and approach. They will ultimately make independent compensation decisions and manage settlements with individual property owners for physical damages demonstrated to be caused by dam removal. Such payments (which will settle claims) will avoid the need for litigation to resolve such damages.”

In the news:   

First Klamath River dam to be removed by end of summer  

The massive dam removal on the Klamath may save salmon but can’t solve the West’s water crisis

With one down, Klamath dam removal proceeds on schedule

An Important Milestone on the Klamath – Removal of the Copco 2 Dam Complete! American Whitewater11/09/2023

On this blog:

Klamath Dam removal study supports sediment releases


Klamath River Renewal Corporation

Klamath Mitigation Fund

Construction begins on removal of 4 Klamath River dams, ASCE 5/11/2023

The Klamath River Fish Kill of 2002 CA.gov 

Klamath River Fish Kill 2002 (Earthjustice) - YouTube video