Potential socio-economic liabilities discussed
By David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News February 20, 2009
Photo by Mike
Slizewski - The Copco community is seen here from above Copco Lake
Thursday. A majority of Copco Lake residents are against removal
of the Klamath dams, saying their lakeside community would suffer
as a result.
Klamath River - The Clark, Dresser and McKee report lists many
possible socioeconomic liabilities associated with dam removal,
including possible costs related to real estate, aesthetics,
recreation, safety, cultural and historical liabilities, power and
economics. The report lists potential decommissioning benefits
related to real estate as possible re-use of the affected land and
the possible sale of land to adjacent land owners.
Potential decommissioning liabilities are listed as possible
diminution of value associated with a change from a lakefront
property to riverfront property and federal government purchase of
private dams. The report goes on to address the large amount of
uncertainty regarding possible real estate liabilities.
“Some changes resulting from dam decommissioning (e.g., a change
from lake to river fishing opportunities) might or might not be
positive changes in the perception of lake-side property owners,”
the report states.
Addressing what the report’s authors feel are current gaps in
data, the report calls for confirmation of PacifiCorp’s intentions
regarding land owned by the company (land under the dams and
reservoirs), completion of a record search and inventory of
properties abutting the J.C. Boyle, Iron Gate and Copco 2 dams and
reservoirs, performing a “market-driven cost comparison approach
to estimate costs” and completion of a land-use study to identify
potential compliance issues after dam removal.
A separate assessment of real estate abutting the Copco 1 dam and
reservoir draws the same conclusions as does the assessment of the
The possible liabilities related to aesthetics are highly
uncertain, according to the report, because “there is insufficient
data to assess complete aesthetic liabilities.” However, possible
liabilities are given as “loss of reservoir and alteration of
waterfront views available to tourists and nearby residences;
changes to the natural landscape associated with reservoir
drawdown and altered instream flows; visual scarring of the land
associated with potential incomplete removal of dam structures;
and change to the topography of the river channel.”
The report’s authors state that there may be positive or negative
changes to aesthetics based on individual perceptions.
Studies and actions that the report’s authors feel may be needed
include developing removal plans that take into account the
difficulty of removing certain parts of the various structures and
developing site restoration plans focusing on the exposed ground
under the reservoirs.
The further socioeconomic liabilities include looks at loss of
recreational opportunities, the safety risks associated with dam
removal activities, the exposure of culturally significant sites,
procurement of replacement power, economics related to land and
facilities acquisition and many other related possible
To address the various and diverse data gaps identified by the
report, the authors suggest numerous studies to recover
information and identify whether or not the concerns will need to
be addressed if the dams are decommissioned and removed.