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  1. 1. A second life for the Elwha PG. 18Restore RESPONSIBLY REVIVING AMERICA’S RIVERS A SPECIAL PUBLICATION BY THE HYDROPOWER REFORM COALITION Letting dams go9 ... and letting rivers find their new equilibriums PG. 10 dams that are now gone+t hree more that will be soon BC’s bad gamble on small diversion PG. 40
  2. 2. Restore restore RESPONSIBLY REVIVING AMERICA’S RIVERSdirector’s note Our hope Project director Rich Bowers Principal author/designerR estore is a special protection and restoration efforts Christian Knight publication of the at individual hydropower dams Hydropower Reform regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well Hydropower Reform CoalitionCoalition, which provides as a long history of developing Pacific Northwest Officean overview of dam removal diverse and long-lasting Rich Bowersnationally, and documents past, partnerships with industry, 830 Reveille Streetcurrent, and planned removals in agencies, tribes, and nonprofit Bellingham, WA 98229-8804the Pacific Northwest. organizations. Our members 360-303-9625 (phone) The Coalition developed this have participated in improving rich@hydroreform.orgreport to discuss removal of and restoring fish habitat, www.hydroreform.orghydropower and other dams as atopic and to highlight restoration natural flows, water quality,successes and community sediment management, riparianand watershed benefits from land protection, and recreationaldam removal in Alaska, opportunities to rivers harmedIdaho, Montana, Oregon, and by hydropower dams. The primary focus of the Coalition is river restoration and reoperating ofWashington. We have also been the existing dams for environmental gain. Providing timely and credible nation’s leading voice on the Coalition members dodata, and facilitating dialogue environmental aspects of not advocate removal hydropower policy. of all dams. For eachregarding dam removal to dam removal exampledecision makers, stakeholders OUR MISSION: The mission in this publication, theand other community of the Coalition is to protect owners and operators and restore environmental and have agreed to removalmembers is another goal of this as a final option. Thepublication. Our hope is that recreational values at rivers report attempts tothis dialogue will be useful in affected by hydropower projects provide complete anddetermining the benefits and and to reform hydropower accurate information, but the Coalitioncosts of future dam removal policy to guarantee needed does not make anyopportunities. environmental protection warranty, express or implied, or OUR COALITION: The measures in hydropower assume any legal responsibility for the regulations. accuracy, completeness, or usefulnessHydropower Reform Coalition of any information or process describedis an association of more than STEERING COMMITTEE: or contained in this document. The150 organizations representing In the Northwest, Steering information in this document does notmore than one million Committee members include represent a complete record of dam removal nationally or in the Pacificconservationists, anglers, American Rivers, American Northwest. This document is intended forboaters, and homeowners that Whitewater, Idaho Rivers United general information purposes only andhave effectively reduced the and Trout Unlimited. Additional should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion.footprint of hydropower dams on information can be found on therivers. The Coalition has more Coalition’s website:than seventeen years of on-the- experience with river n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  3. 3. restore Fall-time angling on Idaho’s Boise by rich bowers When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” — JOhN MUIR About the cover The Hydropower Reform Coalition was orga- an example of when non-power values were well-nized to capitalize on a change to federal law that balanced with operating requirements. The No-requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commis- vember 006 license issued for the Lake Chelansion (FERC) to give equal consideration to non- Project restored flows and recreation to four milespower values like water quality, recreation, and of the Chelan River Gorge, improved 55 miles ofthe protection of fish and wildlife when issuing the Lake Chelan through balanced and comprehen-federal licenses that established the operating re- sive management, as well as 10 miles of fisher-quirements for hydropower dams. ies improvements in the Stehekin River and other The cover photo of the Chelan River Gorge is lake tributaries. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n
  4. 4. restoreThis photo: S. Fk.of the Skykomish’s EagleFalls. Photo by ChristianKnight.Cover: Chelan Gorge during anAmerican Whitewater-coordinatedrecreational release. Photo byRich Bowers. fall 2010 feature 28 TIME TO LET IT GO The White Salmons Condit Dam has been poised for removal for more than a decade. Now, the time for removal has come. essay 10 A NEW EQUILIBRIUM Letting go of the things we love can be hard. Sometimes, however, letting go is the best for everyone and everything. n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  5. 5. restoredepartments 16 RELEASE Profiles on the removal of dams on the Bear,6 OVERVIEW Clark Fork, Sandy, Rogue and Trout CreekThe concept of removing dams might be and upcoming removals of dams on thenew to you. But the act is common and Elwha, White Salmon and Sullivan Creek.becoming increasingly more common in theNorthwest and the nation. By Rich Bowers on the web8 CURRENT WWW.hYDROREFORM.ORGThe danger of old dams; the difference Learn the most recent developments inbetween run-of-river dams and hydropower policy and events; learn moreimpoundment dams and dam removal by about the Coalitions diverse array ofstate. member organizations and get involved. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 5
  6. 6. ove r v i e w the last benefit Dams provide an array of benefits to society. But as they age, those contributions morph into liabilities of safety, economics and environmental harm. The last gift of an aging dam might be its own disappearance. STORY BY RICh BOWERS n PhOTO BY ThOMAS O’KEEFEE leven years ago, a bell in a church’s steeple Corps of Engineers) and its especially true of the began ringing up on the hill. It had rung 14,615 completed before the turn of the century. every Sunday since the late 1800s to As dams structural integrities deteriorate, so do usher in Augusta, Maines French Catholic their benefits to society.parishoners. But on July 1, 1999, it was ringing on The power they once generated is weakened by aa Thursday. And instead of ushering in another centurys worth of accumulated sediment pressingcongregation, it was ushering in a new era. A new against their bases. The fields they were retrofitted toera of dam removal. The Kennebec’s Edwards Dam irrigate may now be parking lots.was the first removed by order of the Federal Energy These diminished benefits come with risks—theRegulatory Commission. And since then, owners and risks of breaches that could result in catastrophicregulators have removed another 460 — accounting flash floods; bankrupting repair requirements; harmfor nearly half of the 836 removed dams counted they impose on our most threatened American Rivers, the national non-profit river “The number of deficient dams has risen to morerestoration organization. than 4,000, including 1,819 dams with high hazard This trend acknowledges what dam removal potential, asserted the American Society of Civiladvocates have been saying for some time: That all Engineers 2009 report card. Over the past sixdams — even the best-built dams — age. years, for every deficient, high-hazard potential dam This is true of the dam built yesterday. Its true of repaired, nearly two more were declared deficient.the 18,690 built in the 1960s (according to the Army The average age ... exceeds 51 years.”6 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  7. 7. The gorge wall of Cornell University’s Triphammer Dam was completed in 1902. In these circumstances—when environmental on Oregon’s Rogue and Sandy Rivers, Idaho’s Beardamage or safety risks outweigh the economic or River, Washington’s Trout Creek, Montana’s Clarkpower benefits of maintaining the Fork, Oregons Hood River, anddam—the Hydropower Reform In these circumstances ... the others. A number of additionalCoalition recognizes that dam Coalition recognizes that dam dams are either currently underremoval is an increasingly useful removal is an increasingly study for removal or are beingtool for river restoration. useful tool for river restoration. removed, such as Condit Dam on The Coalition also recognizes the Washington’s White Salmon River,value of maintaining—and upgrading—some dams, Mill Pond on Sullivan Creek, Elwha and Glines Canyonespecially those that produce sufficient energy. dams on the Olympic Peninsula, Iron Gate, Copco, More than 2,500 megawatts of power could be and J.C. Boyle dams on the Klamath. A number ofadded by simply improving efficiencies at existing other dams, such as the Middle Fork Diversion onhydroelectric plants and adding hydro to non- Washington’s Nooksack River and Growden Damgenerating dams, concluded the 1997 U.S. Hydropower within Washington’s Colville National Forest are alsoResource Assessment for Washington State. being considered for future removal. ThE NORThWEST PERSPECTIVE Dam removal in the Northwest has restored Dam removal has been studied or successfully hundreds of miles of river and provided more fish,undertaken on more than 80 rivers in Alaska, Montana, wildlife, recreation, improved public safety, floodOregon and Washington. This includes dam removals protection, and better water quality. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n
  8. 8. 836 3 The number of dams removed through 00, according to American Rivers most recent survey.1960-1969 28The decade of dams. 9 3U.S. companies andagencies built more 23than percent(1,60) of the 14 14nations dams 3during this era.The secondmost prolific era 1 6of dam building 4occured prior to100. 12 76 10Kansashas 6,0 dams, second No da 3only to Texas ,10. 2Thirty percent of Kansasdams were built before100.n States that have removed 51 dams or more 10n States that have removed 1 to 50 damsn States that have removed 1 to 0 damsn States that have removed 11 to 0 dams No datan States that have removed 10 dams or less* All data retrieved from American Rivers ( and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ( n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  9. 9. DAMnation For the first time since the beginning of last century, dams are coming out of rivers as quickly as they are going in. The states that have embraced this change have used it repeatedly, 14 460+ The number as this map, compiled of dams 11 from American 14 removed Rivers data, 15 since the 125 shows. 10 16 July 1, 1 40 1 removal 19 of Maines 1 163 11 Edwards 48 15 Dam on the 23 1 Kennebec 1 3 River. 3 18 5 12 25ata 5 83,983 4 2 1 No data 4 The number of dams the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers counts in its official inventory. 4 2,500,000 The National Research Councils total estimate of U.S. dams, including small dams, which are not claimed or maintained. From: National Research Councils 1992 report, Restoratoin of Aquatic Ecosystems: Science, Technology and Public Policy. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n
  10. 10. cur rent A new equilibrium Even after a century of impoundment, nature will discover balance.W e’ve all broken our parents’ hearts. At be messy. But we still need to let the river go. least once. On that day when we told When the dam is new, we fool ourselves into them they did a good job and then told believing the structure and the lake it formed will them goodbye. be with us forever, that it has become a part of our Of course we weren’t gone for good. We’d visit on the landscape.weekends, for sure. And all the But dams,major holidays. like children, But they wept anyway because age. After 50they knew the relationship had years, theirchanged. They knew that we concretehad begun our quest for a new rapidly beginsequilibrium. to decay and Getting there, our parents eventuallyknew, would be messy. It would replete with broken cars, fold-out beds, empty Sediment, intended to provide mortar for the river’srefrigerators, break-ups and two-week notices. downstream banks and nutrients for its species, A river’s re-entry into its native riverbed can be instead halts at the dam, accumulating every day likeevery bit as volatile. Before establishing its own new cobwebs in the attic.equilibrium, it must deposit many decades worth of The existing riverbed, vulnerable to the force ofsediment, scour lakeside wetlands, and drain. It can floods now, changes regularly. Microscopic life, whose10 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  11. 11. Landscape architect Cody ErhartCreek before and Sullivan created these images to depict Sullivan Creek’s Millremoval, its current state, after Pond in according to the two and then 10 years after removal of Millarchitecture scaled landscape Pond Dam. of Cody Erhart.survival has depended on that sediment for millions go?” we ask. “What will those migratory birds eat?”of years, disappear. So do entire salmon and steelhead Yes, the transition is always a little messy. Despiteruns. all the scaled models, expert analysis, environmental Of course, these effects are invisible to most of us. impact statements, it’s always a little uncertain. AtWhat we see is the lake—our favorite picnic spot, the least in our own where, that one time, we caught a 10-ounce But that doesn’t mean we should stop it. NatureSmall Mouth Bass. designed rivers to run The place that could to the sea the same waytake the burn out of our parents raised usthe hottest summer to explore the world, today. become self-sufficient. This is what we see And until a river getswhen we gaze upon there, it will always bethe lake. And so, we out of balance.try to hold onto it. “In the lifetime of aEven though the dam river, a dam for 100no longer produces years matters veryelectricity. Even though its fish passage system has little,” says U.S. Forest Service hydrologist Gordonaged so mercilessly, it now kills the very fish it was Grant. “From a geological perspective a dam that sitsoriginally engineered to protect. for 100 years does not cast a long shadow.” And to make the dam owners think twice about But letting a dam go allows the river to develop whatremoval, we do what our parents did to us when we Grant calls “a new equilibrium.”left their homes: We fret over the transition process. “Fundamentally, once you remove a dam, you “But where will you stay?” they asked us. “How will initiate a set of processes, some fast, some slow, byyou eat?” which a river re-establishes a new equilibrium,” Grant With dam removal, the vernacular is different, but explains. “This new equilibrium may have neverthe message is the same: “Where will all that sediment existed that way before.” n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 11
  12. 12. cur rent In 2010, PacifiCorp began removing Hood River’s Pow- erdale Dam, pictured by sam drevo Natural consequences Eventually, most of the nation’s two million dams will be removed. The question is: At nature’s whim or human’s engineering?T he Ka Loko Dam never should have breached In the sleeping hours of March 14, 2006, however, because its owner never should have graded the worst of greed, poor regulation and nature over its spillway. conspired to unleash 300 million gallons of water in It never should have become dilapidated a series of 30- to 70-foot waves. The torrent uprootedbecause state inspectors should have evaluated it trees, devoured the land and drowned seven people—every five years, and forced its owner to maintain it. one of them a pregnant mother and another a 2-year- And it never should have had to hold so much water, old boy.because even in Kauai—Hawaii’s Garden Island—the Compared to Arizonas Mead and Washingtonsheavens rarely dumped so much water for so long. Ross, the Ka Loko Reservoir was tiny. It measured None of these three culprits should have ever less than 20 feet high. But it proved—as history hasconverged. so many times—that pent up energy can wreak a1 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  13. 13. cur rent Oregon’s Sandy River is recovering, according to the models, illustrated below.illustrations by pacificorpdisproportionate amount of damage. They’ve aged. Sediment has built up behind them. The United States has 83,983 dams listed on its Their power generation significance has dwindled.inventory and, some say, a couple million more, which And they need to be retrofitted.are not. “To own and maintain a dam it costs a lot of money,” Of those inventoried dams, more than 26,000 pose says David Hamilton, the water section manager ofa significant or high hazard to the people and lands Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources andthat are downstream, according to the U.S. Army Environment. “It’s cyclic when you need money. You’llCorps of Engineers. And most of those, roughly 73 go years and years and there’ll be need for investment.percent of them, are privately owned. This requires And all of the sudden one year, big years, they drop.”each respective state to inspect dams for weaknesses In 1986, floods swept through much of Michigan,and order the owners to maintain them. But just toppling several dams, which destroyed property andlike the Ka Loko Dam, states don’t always have the lives. In response, Michigan passed the Dam Safetybudgets and the man-power to regularly inspect the Act of 1989, which accomplished several things.dams. And owners frequently don’t have the money The act set standards for dam safety. It establishedto repair them. classifications for the dams—high potential for failure The result is a dangerous concoction of ever or low potential—and it required regular inspections.weakening dams, growing downstream populations Budget shortfalls have forced the department toand more surface water, which combined can devastate focus on the high potential and significant potentialthe land and lives of the people who live beneath them. dams. Despite the shortfalls, Michigan has removedThis is why so many owners are resorting to a third 40 dams through 2009, behind Pennsylvania (163),option: Removing the dams. Allowing rivers to return Wisconsin (125), California (76) and Ohio (48).to their natural states. “That program is making sure dams in place are safe, Michigan is one of the nation’s leaders when it comes well-maintained and regularly inspected,” Hamiltonto dam removal. It has an estimated 2,500 dams, 114 says. “When we find dams that are not safe we sayof which produce hydropower. Because so many of something needs to be done with them. We work withMichigan’s dams were built more than a half-century the owner to make sure they fix the dam or that theyago—and, as in the case of the Boardman River, remove the dam. Our position as an agency is we don’tmore than a century ago—many have outlived their care whether the dam stays in place or is removed.purposes. But if it is in place, it needs to be safe.” n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 1
  14. 14. cur rent For more federal information on hydropower, visit: www. by the u.s. department of energy How do they compare? Run-of-river and impoundment dams differ more in industry semantics than practical application. RUN-OF-RIVER projects facilitate the energy of IMPOUNDMENT dams rely on stored water, whichthe river’s current to produce electricity. Nearly all when needed generates electricity. Impoundmentsrequire a small reservoir to divert water through a are the most common form of hydropower plants andpenstock or flume and into turbines, and then return consist of the world’s largest projects.the water downstream. ADVANTAGES: Provides stable and predictable ADVANTAGES: Require less flooding. Produces energy supply. Produces relatively insignificantfewer carbon emissions. carbon emissions. Public scrutiny ensures utilities DISADVANTAGES: Their power supply can’t be construct and operate with significant mitigations ofcoordinated with consumer-demand. “Eco-friendly” dam impacts.label gives false sense of benign nature, despite minor DISADVANTAGES: Requires large-scale flooding,flooding and destruction of ecosystems. which destroys habitats, blocks salmon runs and rots ExAMPLES: Bonneville and Wells dams on the vegetation, which releases carbon dioxide.Columbia, and most of British Columbia’s Independent ExAMPLES: Hoover and Glen Canyon, RockyPower Producer projects are run-of-river dams. Reach (Columbia), Three Gorges (China).1 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  15. 15. cur rent U. of Minnesota’s Center for Earth’s Surface Dynamics is the place to go for by gordon grant Role of the modelW hen a group of fishermen decided in prediction of a scaled, 60-foot-long, five-foot-wide 10 to remove a Rogue River dam, model of the Sandy River. they didn’t conduct feasibility stud- When the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams come out ies, environmental impact studies or starting in the fall 011, a 5-foot-long scaled modelsediment studies. All they did, was light the fuse. will guide the $51 million deconstruction.Stream ecology has progressed in the last century The researcher involved with both of these modelsand hydrologists today often rely on models to reduce is Gordon Grant, a research hydrologist from Oregonuncertainty in large-scale projects. State University and the U.S. Forest Service. Below The removal of Marmot Dam relied on the are his words on the models.ACCURACY: We were surprised at how quickly the model. We wrote a paper on it. It’s great fun.sediment [at Marmot Dams removal] was evacuated PAPIER MAChE? The basic form is plywood withunder very modest flow conditions. About 20 percent concrete poured over the form and painted. Theof the total volume [of sediment] stored, was evacuated Marmot model cost $30,000 to $40,000.during the first 48 hours. It came out very quickly. The WhO BUILDS ThEM: [The University ofphysical model predicted that, but we didn’t believe Minnesota’s Center for Earth’s Surface Dynamics] areit. On the river … the numerical models predicted masters of the model. [The Marmot model] took aboutthat sand would flush and gravel would linger … The a month to build, for a team of four to five people.models predicted that pretty well. The team consists of lab techs and engineers. Lots ofTRIAL AND ERROR: [Physical] models are engineering is done with these models.expensive and hard to build. We use them to test n To see video of the model’s construction and test goideas. No one had done this [removed a significant to: with natural erosion] before. [The models] get andrun a lot. We ran 10 experiments with the Marmot n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 15
  16. 16. release The Forest Service expended more than 1,000 logs to anchor the by gifford pinchot national forest16 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  17. 17. release Check out http://www. BPANews/ArticleTemplate. Trout Creek revival A day after removal of the Hemlock Dam, a young adult steelhead swims upstreamF or 75 years, one picnic shelters, kiosks and half mile of Trout Creek lay buried in hEMLOCK DAM other Forest Service assets. Hemlock Dam came down in sediment. The 22- n Removed 00 three days. The creek’sfoot-high dam had justified n Wind River is recovery was justthe 1935 drowning of this considered Tier I beginning. And muchsection of the Wind River Key Watershed of its success relied TROUT CREEKtributary by generating n Project on the contributionspower for a 200-man logging exhausted 1,000 of humans—the samecamp into the 50s, irrigating logs for bank species that hada conifer nursery into the 90s, reinforcement drowned the creek 75and providing a swimming n Old growth years earlier.hole warmed by its perpetual conifers from splash dam Using more thanexposure to the Columbia provided logs for bank reinforcement, 1,000 trucked-in logs andRiver Gorge’s sunshine. plus milled wood for kiosks, signs and some of the old growth But the warmth, which took picnic shelter conifers from the splashthe sting out of a summer’s n Removal re-connected upper 0 dam they had uncovereddip for swimmers above the miles to lower two miles of creek during excavation, the Forestdam, had evicted or killed Service rebuilt the Troutthe young steelhead below Creek riverbed and banksthe dam. The concrete, which had provided jobs and and incrementally pumpedelectricity for decades, had also severed the creek’s water around the restoration zone and back into theupper 20 miles from its lower two miles. Ultimately, river below the dam.the dam contributed to the 1998 Endangered Species On that first day, U.S. Forest Service hydrologistlisting of the Lower Columbia steelhead. and project manager Bengt Coffin witnessed the first And so after several years of studying the watershed, glimpse of a long recovery: A young adult steelheadthe Gifford Pinchot National Forest decided in approached the worksite and swam upstreamDecember 2005 to remove the dam and allow the through the rebuilt streambed.creek to become again what it once was: the Wind Removal costs of Hemlock Dam were providedRiver watershed’s most important habitat for native by the U.S. Forest Service, Salmon Recoverysteelhead. Beginning in July 2009, the James Dean Funding Board, the Yakama Nation, U.S. Fish andConstruction company toiled 17 hours a day for 40 Wildlife Service, Ecotrust, Mid Columbia Fisheriesdays, excavating 2,000 dump truck loads (60,000 Enhancement Group, NOAA Fisheries and Americancubic yards) of sediment in a search for the original Rivers.creekbed. “This project is a great example of the painstaking Crews discovered the original splash dam that science behind our efforts to protect and enhancelumberjacks used to transport timber downstream. habitat for fish. In this case, dam removal madeThe Forest Service would use those buried cedars to perfect sense,” said Bill Maslen, BPA Fish and Wildlifehelp anchor the recovering streambanks and to build official. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 17
  18. 18. release Glines Canyon Dam reveals the wear of age. It traps 14 million cubic feet of by thomas o’keefe This time, it’s for real Efforts to remove the Elwha River’s two dams began two decades ago. But the August 010 announcement of a $-million contract gives advocates genuine optimism for a 011 start date.T wenty years ago, Gordon Grant sat around the responsible for modeling the removal. “It’s been on dinner table with fellow scientists, making the books for 20 years. The removal date has been wagers on a napkin. pushed back four times.” The bet: the fate of the Elwha River’s two The dams’ fifth removal date is October 2011. Anddams—the only man-made barriers obstructing the if Grant were sitting around the dinner table with apristine river’s source in the mountains of Olympic bunch of scientists and a spare napkin, the date he’dNational Park from its mouth at the Strait of Juan de scribble on that napkin would be October 2011.Fuca 45 miles and 4,500 vertical feet downstream. “It does look like it’ll come out in the next year,” he And Grant, being a skeptic, waited until the last of says.those scientists had placed his wager. The delays resulted from similar—but more “I, of course, would pick the one day after the last intense—issues that have delayed the removal of soday claimed,” says the Forest Service hydrologist, many unproductive dams throughout the United1 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  19. 19. release The announcement of a $26 million contract indicates removal will begin late 2011.States. Permits. Red tape. landsliding and bleeding for years to come.” Now that the removal seems imminent, however, The best method, Grant says, is to remove the damGrant—and the group of scientists to which he 15 vertical feet at a time, then drain and to repeat thisbelongs—has shifted his attention from the question process over and over and over again.of when the dams will be removed to how. How do “If you do it in stages, if you allow the river to reachyou make thousands of tons of 100-year-old concrete equilibrium with each new stage,” Grant says. “Eachdisappear? How do you delete 20 million cubic yards new stage redistributes the sediment. Each timeof trapped sediment from an empty lake? How do you you lower the dam, you have a new delta. It’s a veryundo a century’s worth of human interference? effective strategy.” This method releases about 25 Of the 600-plus dams percent of the sediment andremoved since the Kennedy redistributes the rest along theadministration, GlinesCanyon would represent ELWhA DAMS sides of the canyon. The dam would be gone inthe biggest. Elwha Dam n Owned by U.S. Dept. of Interior two years.would be the second n Elwha built in 11; But the modellargest. Glines built in 1 revealed another No one has ever done n Combined potential hazard. Thethis. Except by model. capacity of .1 ELWhA current, given too much In 2010, a team of megawatts GLINES freedom, could wanderengineers from the n 1 million cubic away from the locationUniversity of Minnesota’s yards of sediment; 1 of its buried riverbedNational Center for Earth’s million behind Glines and cut a new channelSurface Dynamics built Canyon Dam through the sedimenta 35-foot long precisely n Removal would restore 0 miles of along one side of the canyon orscaled model of the Elwha habitat the other. This could undercutRiver out of concrete and n Both dams impound combined the canyon’s unstableplywood. 6,500 acre feet of water sediment walls and result in And since that time, a perpetual state of landslidesGrant has been testing a and salmon-choking turbidityseries of hypothesis with levels. To avoid this problem,the model. Grant says, an excavator will cut a pilot channel The first lesson he learned is the natural erosion through the middle of the riverbed.method used during the Marmot Dam removal won’t And, if the 45-mile river replicates its 35-foot scaledwork for the Elwha and especially for the Glines model, the Elwha River could once again host runs ofCanyon Dam. Most of the 800,000 cubic yards of 400,000 salmon per year relatively soon.sediment stacked up behind the 47-foot-high Marmot But it wouldn’t be the same river that it was beforeDam was front-loaded, as if consolidated at the end of 1910, when the Elwha Dam severed the river’s lowera wheelbarrow. All it needed was a big gush of water 4.9 miles from its upper 38 shove it out. The 17 million cubic yards of sediment “In the lifetime of a river, a dam that sits there for 100behind Glines Canyon Dam, by contrast, is dispersed years matters very little,” Grant says. “Fundamentally,throughout 140 of Lake Mills’ 415 total acres. The gush once you remove a dam, you initiate a set of processes,of water would be more like the spout from a garden some fast, some slow, by which the river reestablisheshose cutting a channel right through the middle of it. a new equilibrium. The new equilibrium may have “It would leave a 115-foot-high canyon full of unstable never existed that way before. It’s a new river, a newsediment,” Grant says. “The thing would be calving, equilibrium.” n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 19
  20. 20. release As models predicted, the force of the river eroded the stacked sediment by portland general electricNudging natural erosion The removal of the Sandy River’s Marmot Dam was a first for the natural erosion method. And scientists have studied it carefully.T he 2007 removal of Marmot and trapping sediment. Lots of sediment. Dam sparked a lot of theories Portland General Electric rebuilt it in the about what would happen to late 1980s and by 2007, the dam had piled the 43 miles of Oregon’s Sandy 800,000 cubic yards of sediment up to itsRiver below the 47-foot-tall hydroelectric brim and spread it a mile upstream.project. But none of the hydrologists, This was the equivalent of 150 Olympic-geomorphologists and engineers really sized swimming pools worth of sediment.knew exactly how the river would digest Some forecast models were dire: Theyall that sediment. predicted the river would require two- to “No one had ever done this before,” said five years to disburse half of the sediment.Gordon Grant, a research hydrologist And in the meantime, the sediment wouldwith the United States Forest Service. block salmon from downstream tributaries, Since its construction in 1912, Marmot bury spawning beds and suffocate salmon.Dam had been impeding fish passage But that’s not what happened. After 180 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  21. 21. release To see time-lapse video, go to: watch?v=CaNb2wouYUkmonths of negotiation, members of the Hydropower The main concerns about blocking neverReform Coalition, Portland General Electric and 21 materialized,” Esler says. “We had Coho spawning theother signatories had considered two plans: Excavate next week. Literally. It was amazing. You could standthe sediment mechanically or allow the river to erode up on the bridge, look downstream and feel like youit naturally. were looking at a river in the Olympic Peninsula.” The former plan would be expensive, would The Sandy River’s faster-than-hoped-forrequire at least a year of excavation and would stir restoration has been the reward for PGE’s pursuitup turbidity that could choke salmon for the entire of a modeled, yet untried method of removal. Buttime. According to a the impetus for removal wasn’tplethora of models, environmental.the latter optionwould be faster, MARMOT DAM It was economic. PGE began preparing to renew its license inmore natural and n organizations signed the 1998—six years before itsunprecedented. settlement agreement current license would expire. “At the time, it n First major U.S. Its financial officersrepresented the single dam to be removed quickly realized the 22largest instantaneous with natural erosion megawatts of power wouldn’t SANDY RIVERrelease of sediment,” method justify the expense of theGordon Grant says. n 00,000 cubic modifications necessary to Portland General yards of sediment relicense the project.Electric began was -feet thick “It came down to simplepreparing for the and extended a mile exercise,” Esler says. “On oneremoval late in the upstream side, we were consideringsummer of 2007, n The 00 removal connected 100 what the agencies were asking for,when the water was miles of river such as higher flows, rebuilding thelow. And on October n PGE donated 1,500 acres of land to fish ladder, a screen system that put19, 2007, after a the public fish back into the river, the needseries of rainstorms to leave water in the Little Sandy,”swelled the Sandy Esler says.and strained the cofferdams, PGE provided the final “Then, with a simple Excel spreadsheet, we added uppush that allowed the river to once again control the the costs that we were going to do, plus maintenance.riverbed. On other side, we considered the value of energy. It “For me personally, it moved faster than I had was about a wash.”anticipated,” says John Esler, one of PGE’s project The removal connected 100 miles of river, and ledmanagers for the removal. “Once the cofferdam was to the donation of 1,500 acres of PGE’s land to themoved out of the way, the sediment just left. About fast as you could watch it. It came out amazingly “As much as the public complains about dams onfast.” rivers, they get used to dams on rivers,” Elser says. The next three or four storms continued to disperse “That’s the status quo. If we had not been as committedthe sediment. The fine sands, the stuff that can choke as an entity to see this thing through, there would haveor suffocate fish, moved through the system quickly, been 100 ways to stall this thing from happening.Esler says. The team [at] PGE had to bulldog this to keep it on The gravel never blocked side-channels. track. But it’s understandable. It was different. No one It never cut off the tributaries. had ever done this before.” n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 21
  22. 22. Opposite page: Condit’s pow- erhouse and surge tank will all be eliminated as well. timeto let itSouthern Washington’s ConditDam is 97 years old, in needof repair and too inefficient tojustify the environmental andeconomic expenses.Photo by Thomas O’Keefe go n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  23. 23. F ive years and three postpone- Just getting to this point has required the ments after Condit Dam’s original collaboration of stakeholder groups, removal date, PacifiCorp, the proj- and scientists from several state, federal ect’s owner, received one of the and local resource agencies to study everyfinal go-aheads to remove the 15-foot- detail and consequence of removal.high, 1-foot-wide wall of concrete from And though they all acknowledge the short-the lower White Salmon River. term impacts of removal, they all agree it The state order for this $ million removal is necessary for the survival of the Whiteproject came October 1, 010 in the form Salmon River ecosystem and the restorationof the Washington Department of Ecology of one of the region’s most prolific salmonwater quality permit. and steelhead habitats. Photo by TomasO’Keefe Photo by Nicholas O’Neil Photo by ThomasO’Keefe SEven million eggs White Salmon River 3.3 miles from its mouth with 1907: Biologists collect more than seven million the Columbia and about 40 miles from its source onChinook eggs at a hatchery near the mouth of the the southern slope of Mount Adams.White Salmon River. No more fish? oh well. Harnessing the power 1919: After floods destroyed the original fish 1913: Northwestern Power Company builds 125-foot- ladder and its replacement, the dam’s owner absolveshigh, 471-foot-wide Condit Dam to generate power for itself of fish migration responsibilities by paying theprocessing local paper operations and to supply power Washington Fish Commission $5,000 for a mitigatingfor a growing population. The dam, equipped with a fish hatchery. This extinguishes the local populationswooden fish ladder, barricades southern Washington’s of native fall Chinook, coho and steelhead. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n
  24. 24. release Historic photographs show construction, and the narrows section before Condit The federal power act the outcomes of the licensing process. 1920: Congress passes the Federal Power Act, which creates the Federal Power Commission—now the New license, please Federal Energy Regulatory Commission DECEMBER 27, 1991: (FERC)—to coordinate hydroelectric PacifiCorp applies for a new projects and maintain “reasonable, license to continue operation. nondiscriminatory and just rates to the consumer.” FERC modifies A new lease PacifiCorps idea on power OCTOBER 1996: After 1968: PacifiCorp renews its license considering five options for through FERC to operate the Condit Photo by Rebecca Sherman Condit Dam’s fate, FERC hydroelectric project. The lease will recommends PacifiCorp’s expire in 28 years. proposal to maintain the dam with modifications. Necessary imposition 1984: The U.S. Supreme Court rules Section 4(e) They all agree of the Federal Power Act gives FERC no discretion SEPTEMBER 1999: Fifteen environmental groups, to reject the conditions imposed upon a hydropower two tribal entities, and five government agencies operator by federal land reservation managers, such negotiated a comprehensive agreement for an October as the U.S. Forest Service. 2006 removal of what would be the nation’s largest hydropower dam. PacifiCorp estimates removal will Flower power cost $17.5 million. Environmental signatories include: 1986: The Electric Consumers Protection Act amends American Rivers, American Whitewater, Columbia the Federal Power Act to give equal consideration to Gorge Audubon Society, Columbia Gorge Coalition, the preservation of recreational, ecological, and other Columbia RiverKeeper, Federation of Fly Fishers, values of natural rivers. Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Friends of the Combined with the 1984 Supreme Court decision Earth, Friends of the White Salmon, Rivers Council and a 2000 decision by the Ninth Circuit court, these of Washington, The Mountaineers, The Sierra Club, interpretations of the Federal Power Act recognize Trout Unlimited, Wild Fish Conservancy, Washington the rights of federal and state agencies to influence Wilderness Coalition.Photos by PacifiCorp n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  25. 25. release Condit Dam has a peak capacity of 14.7 megawatts, good for 7,500 homes. It will come down, one day be fully evaluated before accepting. OCTOBER 1999: PacifiCorp applies for extension of Rainchecklicense to October 1, 2006, at which point PacifiCorp FEBRUARY 2005: All signatories to the Conditwould remove the dam. This increases the license Dam settlement agreement agree to postpone removalterm from 28 to 41 years. until October 2008. The extra time allows PacifiCorp an extra two years to acquire Send it all to permits and accrue $3.3 million our landfill FEBRUARY 2000: CONDIT DAM to cover unanticipated permitting and mitigation expenses.FERC responds n Impounds . million cubic yards ofto environmental sediment Agenciesanalysis by conducting n Built from 111 to agreehearings on the array of 11 2006: National Marinealternatives for Condit n Provides CONDIT DAM Fisheries Service andDams fate. Klickitat, maximum capacity U.S. Department of FishSkamania counties and of 1. megawatts and Wildlife issuedU.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, n Settlement biological opinionsR-Wash. are concerned agreement was signed under the Endangeredwith the short-term by groups in 1 Species Act, which agreeconsequences of the n Removal would connect lower . the long-term advantages ofsediment-flush, the miles to the upper Wild and Scenic removal outweigh short-termloss of Northwestern River miles impacts of the sediment flush.Lake’s trout fishery n Was first designated Wild and Scenicand lakefront property in 16; then again in 005 Long-termvalues. benefits The counties urge outweigh short-FERC to mandate dredging and disposal of most of term coststhe four million tons of sediment blocked by the dam 2007: The Washington state Department of Ecologyand dumping this into Klickitat Countys landfill. asserts in its Environmental Impact Statement that removal will benefit salmon and steelhead We will sue, if ... populations. 2002: Klickitat and Skamania counties threatento sue the Department of Ecology if the state agency Waiting on permitsallows PacifiCorp to violate the state’s water quality FEBRUARY 2010: As it waits for two water qualitystandards by releasing sediment downstream. permits—one from the Army Corps of Engineers and one from the Washington state Department Federal Power Act of Ecology—PacifiCorp files for another one-year loses power extension, postponing the removal date until 2011. 2005: After a decade of lobbying by utility operators,Congress amends the Federal Power Act to weaken the Success is Within reachpower of resource managers to prescribe conditions OCTOBER 2010: Ecology issues the 401 waterthat would mitigate the projects impact on fish. quality permit, one final barrier between fish andThe amendment allows any stakeholder to propose several miles of free-flowing White Salmon River.alternatives to the prescribed conditions, which must This sets up a Fall 2011 removal. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 5
  26. 26. release Except for leakage, the narrows section has been dewatered for a by thomas o’keefe Sediment solution Beginning in 006, FERC has been trying to figure out what to do with Condit Dam. Much of the problem lay in the . million cubic yards of sediment buried beneah the surface.I n 16, shortly after PacifiCorp’s license and FERC realized the chronic effects of expired, the Federal Energy Regulatory maintaining the dam would be far more destructive Commission (FERC) reviewed PacifiCorp’s than the short-term trauma of removing it. plans for bringing the 15-foot-high dam into In 1, a negotiated settlement betweencompliance. environmental and recreational organizations and At the time, both PacifiCorp and FERC rejected PacifiCorp advocated removal. After a secondremoving the dam in favor of modifying it for fish environmental analysis, FERC agreed—withpassage. PacifiCorp quickly realized, however, some caveats. The next two pages summarizeremoval was more cost-effective than modification the primary options considered in 16 and then in 00.6 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  27. 27. release The impacts of Condit Dam reveal themselves in biology, recreation, and ecology. 1996 FERC removal options build a 1,000-foot diversion tunnel and gate capable Basic upgrades, $9.39 million of withstanding a five-year flood. Upgrade turbines, generators, transformers and The project would require a series of cofferdams to electrical auxiliaries for more efficiency. divert the water and the transformation of 50 acres ofPhoto by Rebecca Sherman Photo by Rebecca Sherman Photo by Daniel Dancer Photo by Tomas O’Keefe The plan would also create a tailrace barrier privately owned pear orchard into a sediment disposal to protect fish. These upgrades would increase site. megawatt production from 1. to 15. while reducing PacifiCorp would transport much of the one- to- by 100 cfs the amount of water necessary for energy two million cubic yards of sediment and 50,000 cubic production. yards of loose concrete to the disposal site using off- highway haul vehicles. To get the sediment from the FERC additions to upgrades, $24 million dry lakebed to the disposal site, the energy company FERC’s version of the plan adds to PacifiCorp’s would have to build a .5 mile road for access. Total proposal to include upstream/downstream fish time: one year. passage, spillway modifications, seasonal ramp rates, gravel enhancement, post-installation monitoring Removed, wet excavation, $83 million studies, and converting the dam from a peaking/ This operation would require the .5-mile, temporary pulsing operation to a run-of-river operation. road, 1,000-foot diversion tunnel and cofferdams. It would also require a diesel-driven hydraulic cutter Removed, sediment flushed, $35 million head, which would dredge into the entire lake, starting To remove the dam, PacifiCorp would draw down the at the upstream end, working its way toward the lake with scheduled spills for two to three months. For dam. the next two years, a diversion tunnel would transport A floating pipeline would transport the dredged slurry the lake’s remaining sediments around the dam and to the shore, where a pump would push it uphill to the back into the riverbed. disposal site. With a connecting pipe, this disposal site Once back, the current would push the sediment would drain the water and suspended-silt to a smaller downstream, where it would likely form a delta in the treatment pond. Bonneville Pools at the White Salmon’s mouth. FERC eliminated this method as a viable option. Partial dam removal, $67.066 million “The river would not flush these sediments from Partial removal would decrease the height of the this wide shallow area for 10-0 years, creating an 15-foot dam to 5 feet and eliminate two million unacceptable situation from a fisheries stand point.” cubic yards of sediment from the lake-bottom. The plan would require an intake and pipeline, the Removed, dry excavation, $72 million disposal of two million cubic yards of wet sediment To de-water Northwestern Lake, PacifiCorp would and the construction of a new hydropower diversion n Winter 011 n RESTORE n
  28. 28. release n RESTORE n Winter 011 n Photo by Thomas O’Keefe
  29. 29. release Husum Falls and Double Drop are a few of the rapids that attract thousands of the head of Northwestern Lake that would release the advantage of a dry lakebed. The dam would be00 cfs into the .-mile bypass reach. This would gone in one year. FERC predicts this method wouldprovide full fish passage and eliminate the need to release a lethal amount of sediment downstream thatremove the trapped silt. would eliminate entire fish populations, scour a .-acre The signature of the partial removal option is the wetland and, for two years, bury the spawning bedsconstruction of a waterfall directly downstream of the at the Bonneville Pools at the mouth of the Columbia.removed dam. PacifiCorp would mitigate these temporary impacts The intent of this system is to allow upstream and through engineering, fish capture and hatchery, anddownstream fish and kayak passage. the development of several programs.—FERC Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), “In the 16 FEIS, we concluded that the no- October 16; retrieved from: sediment treatment would be unacceptable becauseidmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=11010 it would result in the long-term (10-to 0-year) 2002 FERC removal option deposition of sediments …” the 00 FERC EIS says. 1.) Settlement Agreement: Twenty-three signatories “[T]he issue [with no sediment treatment] is where theagreed to cap PacifiCorp’s liability at $17.15 million (in sediments are deposited, not how they get there.”1999 value). The plan calls for PacifiCorp to excavate The plan earned the support of vested interests,a 1-foot-high by 1-foot-wide drain tunnel at the ranging from those representing conservation andbase of Condit Dam. Models predict this would drain fishing to utilities and the Yakama Nation. FERCthe lake at a rate of 10,000 cubic feet per second amended the settlement agreement with additionaland would flush 65 to 0 percent of the sediment mitigations. This plan provides the blueprint fordownstream. In six hours, Northwestern Lake would removal in October gone. --Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (2002). Using rock-quarrying techniques, PacifiCorp crews Final Environmental Impact Statement. Washingtonwould then remove the dam and power station with D.C. pp. B-6. Photo by Thomas O’Keefe n Winter 011 n RESTORE n
  30. 30. release The end of an era began with deconstruction in 2007 and with a 2008 organized breach.0 n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  31. 31. release The $225 million settlement to remove Milltown Dam was reached in by thomas o’keefe Undoing the harm Mining turned Milltown into one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites. The removal of -year-old Mill Town Dam is changing that.A few months after copper mining tycoon of 2006. Crews initiated the drawdown process in William Clark had completed the Milltown 2007 by first excavating 700,000 cubic yards of toxic Dam in the summer of 1908, a series of sediment. They breached the dam in 2008. And in torrential rains flooded the Clark Fork the coming years, the river will redeposit 300,000Valley, washing millions of tons of non-toxic sedimenttons of mine waste from the downstream.Butte shafts—arsenic, copper, MILLTOWN DAM “We all know Montana islead, zinc—toward the base of perfect,” Sen. Max Baucus, n 00 removal reconnected ClarkMill Town Dam. D-Montana, told a crowd Fork and Blackfoot Rivers For the next 100 years, the gathered at the n Milltowntoxic sediment contaminated dam during the Dam part ofanything it contacted—river March 2008 West’s largestwater, drinking water, aquatic breach. “And Superfund site MILLTOWN DAMlife, and the sediment that today we are n All butaccumulated at the dam every making it more seven Montanasecond of every day. perfect.” Superfund sites By 2008, scientists estimated In time, are mining related6.6 million cubic yards of 200,000 fish— n ARCO tooksediment had settled at the trout, suckers, responsibility for part of cleanupdam’s base. And every once pike minnows— will swim n To see video, go to: a while, a flood or an ice past the dam. And already, would send a pulse of scientists have marveled attoxic water over the dam and how quickly aquatic life hasdownstream, resulting in rebounded in the renewedperiodic destruction of fish and river.insect populations. “Over the last few years, almost three million cubic This happened in 1996, when an ice jam scoured the yards of sediment has gone, and remediation is almosttoxic sediment from above the hydroelectric dam and complete,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologistgushed it downstream. Dave Schmettering told The Missoulian and a crowd The resulting fish kill—combined with contaminated of fishing guides last March. “And it’s had an effect ondrinking water and a 1983 Superfund listing— the watershed.compelled the Environmental Protection Agency to The impacts of the dam removal are now behindorder in 2004 the dam’s removal, and the dredging us by a couple years. We’re going to see lots moreand disposal of the sediment. diversity, and not just the pollution-tolerant insects The $225 million project began in the summer or the ones that were limited to certain substrates.” n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 31
  32. 32. release Removal of Cove Dam provided 30 miles of critical habitat to a threatened by idaho parks and recreation A fair trade To pay for the removal of the Bear River’s Cove Dam, conservationists had to give up 1 cfs. In return, they got 0 miles of restored river habitat.U p until October 2006, the Bear River began its 500-mile journey to the Great Salt Lake in eastern Utah’s Unita Mountains, 100 miles away. Along the way, the river visited Wyo-ming and Idaho, and then Wyoming again before itcircled back into the state of its origin and spilling into itsdestination. In those 500 miles, the Bear River plummeted over sixdams and, for 26,000 feet, funneled through an open,concrete and wooden flume. The Bear River’s journey fromthe Unita Mountains to the Great Salt Lake is still basicallythe same today as it was in September 2006—except forone small, but significant detail: It now plummets over fivedams, not six. And no longer does it have to funnel aroundBlack Canyon in a six-mile-long wooden flume. n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  33. 33. release The key to agreement was 17 cubic feet per second of water. This, due to a creative solution proposed by an Both sides took the company official and the willingness of The agreement freed up 30 miles of river, restoredconservationists, such as Idaho Rivers United, habitat to the threatened Bonneville Cutthroat Trout,American Whitewater and Trout Unlimited, to work and guaranteed whitewater releases for paddlingwith it. enthusiasts. “Reestablishing as much connectivity as PacifiCorp had agreed in 2002 possible will help that speciesto strongly consider removing the to survive,” says Kevin Lewis,unproductive 26-foot-high by 140-foot-wide Cove Dam and all of its BEAR RIVER conservation director for Idaho Rivers United. “Reestablishingfacilities. But that removal would n Cove Dam a habitat where fish can movehave cost the company more than included a 6,000- up and down the river is a big$3 million. foot flume, through win.” And PacifiCorp hadn’t included which the entire river A hundred years ago, thethe costs of Cove Dam’s removal in was transported to Bonneville Cutthroat Troutits budget. The only money it could a powerhouse at migrated freely throughdevote to its decommissioning the bottom of Black the Bear River.would have to come from other Canyon. They were easyfunds, such as the habitat n 006 removal to catch, highlymitigation fund. restored 0 miles of COVE DAM nutritious and “No one wanted to give up habitat for the native plentiful to thetheir fund,” says Charlie Vincent, Bonneville Cutthroat point of being aa regional representative for Trout. nuisance. For 70American Whitewater. “So we n $ million-removal years, startinglooked at grants. But grants are was paid for by extra energy in the 1850s, communitiesfor thousands of dollars. Not produced from 1 cfs. near the Bear River reliedmillions.” n Was one of six on the 500- on the Bonneville Cutthroat After 10 months of dead ends, mile-long Bear River. Trout for food and for trade.PacifiCorp project manager Monte n Cove Dam was built in the And that intense reliance,Garrett asked if the signatories World War I era. combined with six Worldwould be willing to give PacifiCorp War I-era dams, strained17 cfs of water. the species’ survival. Now, it Up until 2002, you see, is listed on Utah’s SensitivePacifiCorp had the right to funnel all of the water Species list.around the six-mile-long Black Canyon and pump it The removal of Cove Dam, however, represents athrough a powerhouse at the end of the gorge. possible comeback point for the Bonneville Cutthroat The agreement of 2002, however, mandated the Trout. And the opportunity revealed itself in the non-release of 80 cfs into Black Canyon—an amount functioning flume of Cove Dam.devoted to restoring some habitat for the Bonneville “The flume had become a significant maintenanceCutthroat Trout. Garrett calculated that PacifiCorp problem,” says Dave Eskelsen, spokesman forcould pay the $3 million removal bill with the extra PacifiCorp’s subsidiary Utah Power. “It would haverevenues generated from an additional 17 cubic feet required wholesale maintenance construction. Asper second of water. we looked at the work required to operate Cove, it The environmental groups concerned with the made more sense for our electricity customers tohealth of the fish, in turn, realized habitat recovery decommission the project than to perform this kindcould work with 63 cfs, nearly as well as with 80 cfs. of work needed to keep it running.” n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 33
  34. 34. release Gold Ray Dam, pictured below, was the last of the four Rogue River dams to by thomas o’keefe The Rogue runs wild In a matter of three years, four of the Rogue River’s five dams have become non-existent, freeing up more than 150 river miles.S ince the end of the last century, some them. dam removals have required a decade of But these were all unfulfilled promises. coordination and negotiation. It requires “The salmon piled up below it and wouldn’t go scientific analysis of stream habitat, through the dark tunnel of a fishway,” wrote local Glenspawning beds, sedimentation, turbidity and Woolridge in his 1982 book, The Rogue: A River tocountless other details to which most humans are Run. “It destroyed more salmon than the commercialoblivious. Deconstruction itself can cost millions of fishermen ever caught.”dollars and much more time than exists on the dam- And so, in 1912, a group of vigilantes dynamitedowner’s license. a portion of the Ament Dam. In 1921, it was legally But in 1902, all removing a dam required was a removed, the first of the Rogue River dams to begroup of angry men and a few sticks of dynamite. removed. In the nine decades since, four of the The Golden Drift Mining Company had promised Rogue River’s dams have aged into obsolescencethe people of Grants Pass, Oregon, that its dam would and expensive maintenance. This combined with theprovide the community with irrigation water and Rogue’s status as one of the nation’s original eight Wildpower generation. The fish tunnel would still allow and Scenic Rivers and Oregon’s most active salmonsalmon to run the river freely, the company assured run, has encouraged dam owners to take them out. n RESTORE n Winter 011 n
  35. 35. release Just one dam remains between the upper Rogue, pictured below, and the by rich bowers GOLD hILL, JULY 2008 a means of providing irrigation water Even after the Gold Hill Damstopped producing electricity ROGUE RIVER to local farmers. The installation of 12 irrigation pumps, which providein the 1970s, the city of Gold n Was one of the original water to 7,500 acres in the GrantsHill kept it around for water eight rivers Pass valley, however, rendereddiversion. But in 2006, the included in the 89-year-old dam useless. Ineight-foot-high dam lost that the 16 April 2009, construction crewspurpose as well, when the city Wild and ROGUE RIVER began the five-month processinstalled a pumping station Scenic that re-connected an additionalto deliver its water, allowing Rivers Act. 50 miles of river.the Rogues second-greatest n Roguehindrance to fish passage to be is Oregons GOLD RAY, AUGUST 2010removed. most After Gold Ray Dam stopped prolific salmon spawning river. producing hydroelectricity in 1972, ELK CREEK , JULY 2008 n Removal of four dams freed Jackson County, Oregon, assumed Not so long ago, Elk Creek 150 miles of river and more responsibility of this 106-year-old,provided spawning habitat for than 500 miles of tributaries. 38-foot-high dam from Pacific Power.30 percent of the Rogue River’s n The Rogues water quality Maintenance costs quickly convincedChinook and coho. But in the is rated between 5 and the County to decommission the dam1980s, construction began— on the Oregon Water Quality and remove it.and 80 vertical feet later halted Index. So did the Oregon Department ofon the Elk Creek Dam. The Fish and Wildlife’s listing of the dammassive concrete obstruction as the state’s fifth-highest priority forblocked fish travel for 30 years and offered no benefit removal or modification. In August 2010, with the helpin return. In July 2008, the Army Corps of Engineers of $5 million of stimulus funds, construction crewsblew a river-wide notch in the dam with a series of drained a slough causing a cofferdam connected to ablasts, enabling that portion of river to flow free. sand spit to fail. Most of the slough drained, which exposed the SAVAGE RAPIDS, OCTOBER 2009 original log dam and freed up more than 157 miles of The Savage Rapids Dam replaced the Ament Dam as the Rogue River. n Winter 011 n RESTORE n 35