That’s how Dave
Meurer, community liaison for Klamath River Renewal
Corporation, describes the possibility of the removal of
four dams along the Klamath River.
of John C. Boyle, Copco 1 and 2, and Iron Gate Dams, and
their removal, are set to begin starting in January 2022,
pending a decision for the go-ahead by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, according to Meurer.
with Herald and News recently about the dam removal process
and the “prep work” behind it, as well as how close KRRC is
to obtaining the license from FERC, which is set to make a
decision this spring.
“We hope that
FERC will be in the position to make a decision in March,”
“We’re in a
situation where losing a month or two can actually mean
losing a year.”
maximum price for dam removal will be included in
information filed with FERC at the end of February, Meurer
said, noting that how the funds are to be allocated is still
is what has been allocated for the project,” Meurer said.
“And then within that $450 million, the costs are being
refined of who is going to be spending what on what.”
priorities for the nonprofit includes getting infrastructure
ready, such as design and replacement of a waterline for the
city of Yreka, through an agreement with Yreka’s City
“It’s about a
$4 million investment that KRRC will be making for the city
because we would have affected their other water line,”
Meurer said, noting there is no cost to city residents.
consistent with the approach that we told folks we’re going
to take from day one,” he added. “We’re going to leave your
infrastructure in as good or better condition than when we
approval of two applications that would make it possible for
KRRC to move along with facilitating dam removal, Meurer
continues to answer questions about the project, speak about
the anticipated impact on the Klamath Basin, and of the
steps involved in removing the dams.
“What we are
going to do is to create the removal of obstacles so that
fish can pass freely,” Meurer said. “It’s a combination of
things – it’s volitional fish passage but one of the
corollary benefits is also going to be improved water
As is, Meurer
describes a sediment-starved Klamath River, a far cry from
how sediment moves naturally through roaring rivers. He
anticipates a free-moving river would also break up a
disease common to fish in the river – C. shasta.
reservoirs currently heat up artificially during the summer,
Meurer said, which causes fluctuations in the river
temperature at “odd” times.
theses pools of slow-moving water that heat up during the
summer, and then help foster these algae blooms …. That’s an
unhealthy water condition – it’s poor water quality,” he
added. “Dam removal is going to address that in addition to
opening up the river for fish where they’re not hitting a
“It will let
the river basically behave like a river again,” Meurer
emphasized that while one of the reasons PacifiCorp decided
to re-license is the surmounting cost of installing new fish
ladders to the dams, including Iron Gate, which currently
fish passage alone would also not address the water quality
problems that would continue to exist,” Meurer said. “The
combination of putting in fish ladders and trying to address
water quality issues would be in the $400-plus million
negotiated removal of the dams on behalf of their customers
with a known, fixed cap of $200 million and up to $250
million in California bonds, rather than face unknown and
uncapped costs, according to Meurer.
refer to the possibility over the course of the dam’s
50-year license to add mandatory requirements if a new
endangered species issue arises.
Utilities Commission in both Oregon and California have
determined that implementation of the Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement, which includes those cost protections
for consumers and includes the dam removal project, that
agreement has been determined to be in the best interest of
the ratepayers,” Meurer said.
fields questions from those in opposition who ask why remove
a working dam system or how agriculture would be impacted.
“The old way of
doing things simply is not allowable under the law ... you
can’t just leave them alone,” Meurer said.
“None of the
water that is stored in hydroelectric reservoirs is used for
agriculture,” he said. “It’s not used for municipal
diversions. It’s not used for farms and ranchers – that
water is used to produce hydro-power.”
emphasized that Upper Klamath Lake, the headwaters of the
Klamath River, will look the same after the dams are taken
touching Upper Klamath Lake,” he said. “We’re not touching
the facilities that provide ag water.
these facilities – yes, they work as designed, but new laws
are in effect, and they prevent fish and federally protected
fish species from accessing historic habitats,” he added.
“Fish numbers are declining and that status quo is really
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