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Federal funds go to dam study
$840,000 will be used to research the impacts of dam removal
By TY BEAVER, Herald and News 2/12/10
More than $ 840,000 in federal stimulus money will go toward studies investigating removal of four Klamath River hydroelectric dams.
Dam removal is a key aspect of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which aims to resolve water disputes along the watershed. U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., on Thursday publicly voiced his support of the landmark document, the first of Oregon’s federal lawmakers to do so.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation awarded the dam study contract to Research Triangle Institute, based in North Carolina. The company will investigate the “economic potential for advancing fisheries restoration by removing the four dams, and whether it is in the public interest to do so,” according to a press release.
Pete Lucero, a spokesman for the federal agency, said the study is just one of many the federal government will conduct to determine the feasibility of dam removal.
“That’s going to be very helpful,” he said of the federal stimulus funding.
In his endorsement of the restoration and dam removal agreements, Merkley called them “more than a resolution of one water dispute, it is a strategy for improving the economic and environmental future of an entire region.”
State and federal officials worked with dam owner PacifiCorp to develop a dam removal agreement that sets the year 2020 as the latest removal can begin, assuming feasibility studies deem it favorable.
The Bureau of Reclamation already has requested $5 million in its latest budget proposal to study dam removal. According to those budget documents, that requested funding would fund studies considering “the liabilities, environmental risks, and effects on downstream resources resulting from dam removal. This includes studying and determining how to manage the content and volume of sediment trapped behind the dams …”
Lucero said the study being conducted by Research Triangle Institute could eventually be part of that budget request but emphasized that a number of studies will have to be conducted.
“This is one aspect,” he said.
What is the KBRA?
Stakeholders have worked on a final draft of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement since early 2008.
The 369-page document is supposed to resolve disputes over water in the Klamath River watershed. It would cost an estimated $1 billion over 10 years to implement, with about $400 million of that needing to be new spending.
People can access the restoration agreement and the related dam removal agreement at www.edsheets.com
Page Updated: Saturday February 13, 2010 03:33 AM Pacific
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