'Definite Plan' for Klamath Dam Removals Filed

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Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River. - FILE
  • File
  • Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River.
The “definite plan” for removing four dams from the Klamath River has been filed with the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, providing a detailed blue print for how the largest river restoration project in U.S. history will unfold.

“We have completed a major milestone through the development and filing of this plan,” said Mark Bransom, executive director of Klamath River Renewal Corporation. “KRRC has developed this plan with tremendous respect for the complexity of the project and with extraordinary care in its efforts to enhance benefits and minimize impacts to local communities. I am proud of this achievement and I look forward to the next steps in the regulatory review process.”

Removal of the dams is slated to begin in 2021 after a new agreement was reached in February of 2016. Read more previous coverage here and here.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, shortly before the signing of an agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, shortly before the signing of an agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River.

And, if you are interested in perusing the 2,300-page document, a copy can be found here.

Release from the KRRC release below:
KLAMATH RIVER REGION – The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) announced today it has filed its “Definite Plan for the Lower Klamath Project” with the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) for the proposed removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River – J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate. This filing represents an important next step in KRRC’s effort to restore the Klamath River.

The Definite Plan was filed on June 28, 2018 as part of KRRC’s application to FERC for the transfer of the FERC license to operate the dams. FERC will review the Definite Plan to confirm KRRC has the technical, legal, and fiscal capacities to become the licensee. KRRC’s dam removal and river restoration project, currently the largest dam removal project in U.S. history, is expected to improve water quality, revive fisheries, create local jobs, and boost tourism and recreation.

The Definite Plan is an approximately 2,300-page document that provides comprehensive analysis and detail on project design, deconstruction, reservoir restoration, and other post-deconstruction activities. KRRC also filed responses to FERC’s requests for additional information, including requests in FERC’s March 15, 2018 order, as a part of its regulatory review and approval process.

Among the many topics covered in the Definite Plan are KRRC’s plans to: manage construction impacts, manage impacts to groundwater wells, perform flood-proofing, improve roads and bridges, provide recreation opportunities, replace the City of Yreka water line, protect aquatic resources, and provide for ongoing fish hatchery operations. The plan also provides updated information on project costs and risk management.

KRRC is confident these foundational documents will help FERC determine KRRC has the capabilities to assume license of the dams and to complete the dam removal process, which includes deconstruction of the dams and restoration of formerly inundated lands.

“We have completed a major milestone through the development and filing of this plan,” said KRRC Executive Director, Mark Bransom. “KRRC has developed this plan with tremendous respect for the complexity of the project and with extraordinary care in its efforts to enhance benefits and minimize impacts to local communities. I am proud of this achievement and I look forward to the next steps in the regulatory review process.”

In May, FERC authorized KRRC to convene a panel of nationally recognized experts to serve as an Independent Board of Consultants (BOC) for the project. This panel brings expertise in dam construction and removal, engineering, aquatic and terrestrial biology, construction cost estimating, and risk management. During the coming months, FERC and the BOC will review and provide guidance on the Definite Plan. KRRC welcomes this feedback and will continue its planning and preparations in anticipation of a future decision by FERC on the transfer and surrender applications. If KRRC receives all necessary approvals to begin work, it expects to begin site preparations in mid-2020, with dam removal and restoration activities commencing in 2021.

A complete copy of the Definite Plan is available at klamathrenewal.org/definite-plan.

Editor's note: This story had been updated to correct the estimated start of the dam removal.

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