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California Water Authorities Consider Removal of Klamath River Dams

If approved, the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate dams would all be decommissioned and removed.

Posted: Jun. 12, 2018 4:08 PM
Updated: Jun. 12, 2018 4:13 PM

YREKA, Calif. — The California Water Boards are in the early stages of considering the decommission and removal of four dams along the Klamath River in Siskiyou and Klamath counties.

The move comes after a nonprofit organization called the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) applied with federal authorities to decommission the entire Lower Klamath Project—a shorthand for the series of dams that regulate water flow along the lower Klamath River.

If the application goes forward, the J.C. Boyle dam in Klamath County, and the Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate dams in Siskiyou County would all be decommissioned and removed.

Currently, the Water Boards are only considering a water quality certification submitted by the KRRC, and opening the issue up for public comment in regards to the potential impacts on water quality should the dams be removed.

“KRRC is currently reviewing the Water Board’s draft conditions of certification,” said KRRC Executive Director Mark Bransom. “Along with the proposed certification from the State of Oregon, the issuance of this draft certification from California is another positive and important step forward in implementing Klamath River Renewal Project.”

This latest announcement is part of a legacy that stretches back years. In 2010, a long list of interested parties—but primarily PacificCorp and a coalition of Klamath River tribes—reached the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, providing a roadmap for the removal of those four dams by 2020. That agreement was amended in 2016.

The settlement sought to eventually return the Klamath River to "free-flowing" conditions, allowing fish to pass along the river unhindered by man-made dams.

With their application to move ahead with the decomissioning of those dams, and the request for water quality certification, the KRRC seeks to move ahead with the agreement and accelerate the process.

The Water Boards will be taking public comment until July 23, 2018. Comments can be emailed to them at WR401Program@waterboards.ca.gov.

The draft certification from California Water Boards may be viewed below:

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