Contractor chosen for removal of Klamath River dams

The long-term project to remove a number of the Klamath River's hydroelectric dams has entered its next major stage.

Posted: Apr. 25, 2019 3:49 PM
Updated: Apr. 26, 2019 2:00 PM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The project to see four dams removed from along the Klamath River just entered a new phase, with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) choosing a contractor to accomplish the task.

The Klamath River restoration project is one of the biggest dam removals in the world so far, particularly in terms of price tag. The JC Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate dams are all slated for removal under the plan.


Credit: Dave Jensen / Western Rivers Conservancy

According to KRRC, contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. out of Fairfield, California has been awarded $18.1 million for "preliminary services," and will be granted more funds once they accomplish the project's design.

“Selecting Kiewit marks another key achievement and brings KRRC closer to completing the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. history,” said Mark Bransom, KRRC Chief Executive Officer. “Once implemented, the project will help restore the vitality of the Klamath River so that it can support all communities in the basin.”

Kiewit recently completed emergency reconstruction of the Oroville Dam spillway in Butte County, California — the same area ravaged by the Camp Fire in 2018. Previously, the dam had repeatedly failed to meet regulator's safety standards. It began releasing water again in March of this year.

KRRC said that the Oroville project involved removal and repair of both the main flood control and emergency spillways in less than 18 months, as well as debris and sediment removal and the development of access roads.

"We are very proud to have been selected by KRRC. This project has many similarities to other complex water and hydroelectric projects we’ve delivered across North America,” said Jamie Wisenbaker, senior vice president for Kiewit. “We fully understand the breadth and importance of this undertaking and are excited and committed to safely delivering a high-quality project that meets the expectations of KRRC, the community and all key stakeholders in the region.”

For the time being, Kiewit will be working on the design and planning for the project, with a 60-percent design expected by January of 2020. The removal project itself is not scheduled to begin until sometime in 2020 as well. In the meantime, the permitting, certification and licensing processes will continue [see timeline from KRRC].

“This is a major step forward in restoring the Klamath River. We’re well on our way toward bringing the salmon home, improving water quality and revitalizing the river for local communities. It won’t be long until we’re seeing the benefits of the biggest dam removal in history,” said Steve Rothert, California Director of American Rivers

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