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Potential socio-economic liabilities discussed in report
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.

CDM Report

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 other dams.

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 liabilities.

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.

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