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Stimulus funds will pay to study dams

Dam removal critical for Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement

by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 4/17/09

About $4 million in federal funding will pay for studies to determine the feasibility of removing PacifiCorp’s four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River.

The money is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, economic stimulus legislation approved by Congress, according to a press release from Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office. The U..S. Bureau of Reclamation will perform the studies.

Dam removal is a key component of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, a document that seeks to resolve water disputes among fishermen, farmers, tribal members and environmentalists.

Reclamation officials said details of the studies and what they would analyze are still being determined, but that work should begin soon after July 1.

“I can guarantee you we’ll be moving fast,” said Lynnette Wirth, deputy public affairs officer for the mid-Pacific region of the Bureau of Reclamation.

State and federal government officials and representatives of PacifiCorp signed a tentative agreement in November to move toward dam removal. They have until June 30 to craft a final version.

That agreement calls on the Secretary of the Interior to decide the feasibility of dam removal by 2012, requiring a number of studies to determine potential benefits, liabilities, environmental risks and effects on downstream resources, officials said.

Wirth said the study likely would require the Bureau of Reclamation to collaborate with other state and federal agencies to gather the necessary data.

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