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Copco No. 1, a dam built between 1911 and 1918, is on the list for removal if a Klamath restoration plan moves forward.
Klamath proposal gains support in Legislature
Committee endorses plan that would remove four dams

Mitch Lies, Capital Press 2/12/09

SALEM - A Senate committee on Tuesday, Feb. 10, endorsed a bill that puts in motion a plan to remove four Klamath River dams.

Senate Bill 76, introduced by Gov. Ted Kulongoski as part of an agreement hammered out between Klamath Basin tribes, fishermen, farmers and conservationists, caps liability to Oregon's PacifiCorp ratepayers at $180 million.

Spread over 10 years, the increase is expected to cost Oregon ratepayers an extra $1.50 a month.

Senators in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee by a 4-1 vote moved the bill to the Senate floor with a do-pass recommendation, despite considerable opposition raised in a hearing one week earlier.

One basin farmer in the Feb. 4 hearing handed committee members a petition opposing the plan signed by 1,850 Klamath-area landowners.

Opponents of the legislation say the agreement doesn't adequately protect water supplies for farmers and ranchers. Environmentalists opposed to the bill say it doesn't adequately protect fish runs.

Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, voted against the bill, saying he was concerned the bill did not specify who would pay for cost overruns.

Under the current plan, California ratepayers would pay $20 million of the projected $200 million cost. And California lawmakers would float a bond measure to fund an additional $250 million to cover dam removal costs up to $450 million.

Ninety percent of PacifiCorp's approximately 600,000 ratepayers are in Oregon, accounting for the discrepancy in ratepayer obligations.

Those cost estimates for dam removal don't take into account costs associated with removing or releasing silt that has built up behind the dams, Boquist said.

Some have speculated sediment removal could cost billions of dollars.

"(Senate Bill 76) really isn't a cap," Boquist said, "because we can come back in two years and change this."

Staff writer Mitch Lies is based in Salem. E-mail: mlies@capitalpress.com.
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