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Dam reports available to public
Removal of the Klamath dams would affect regions in both Siskiyou County and southeastern Oregon.
By Courtesy of the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee

by David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News, February 2, 2009

Siskiyou County, Calif. - A slew of reports concerning the potential removal of four dams along the Klamath River have been released for public viewing by American Rivers, including studies on economic impacts, engineering and technical aspects of dam removal, effects on aquatic life, a 2007 Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) Final Environmental Impact Statement, effects of sediment transport, water quality and others. One report, concerning the presence of cyanotoxins in the water downstream from the Copco 1 and Iron Gate reservoirs, states, “Some of the highest levels of microcystin ever recorded in the world were measured from Copco Cove in Copco reservoir.” The report is aimed at verifying the Klamath’s designation as an impaired river by the Clean Water Act standards.

The report, compiled by the State Water Board, details a series of tests of Klamath system mussels, perch and salmon for cyanotoxins, which are recognized as dangerous to humans and some animals. Using a variety of testing locations and samples, the water board researchers concluded that variations exist along the river system, namely, microcystin in yellow perch is higher in Copco reservoir than Iron Gate, and the concentrations in yellow perch and mussels is significantly higher in the summer than any other time of the year.

The issue of cyanotoxins and blue-green algae in the Klamath has been addressed in the past, and studies suggest that PacifiCorp, if the dams are to be relicensed, will have to add measures to the dams which will reduce or eliminate the presence of the algae in order to have them relicensed.

The list of reports also contains a FERC estimate of the costs of dam removal, using heavy construction materials data from 2007 and using original construction reports to determine the amount of material in each dam.

The cost estimates do not include the salvage value of materials that could offset the cost of removal and assume that sediment release will be done in a manner that does not require any additional funding. The report states, “If contaminated sediment is found, and is not suitable for downstream transport, the costs of dam removal would be substantially higher.”

The estimates are as follows: • Decommissioning and removal of JC Boyle facilities-$18,911,000; • Removal of contaminated sediment, if needed-2 to 7 million dollars; • Decommissioning and removal of Copco 1 Dam-$20,368,000; • Removal of contaminated sediment, if needed-955 million dollars to 2.9 billion dollars; and • Decommission and removal of Copco 2 dam-$3,731,000.

The report concludes that there is unlikely enough sediment behind the dam to cause a problem; and Decommissioning and removal of Iron Gate dam-$36,853,000. Removal of contaminated sediment, if needed-485 million dollars to 1.5 billion dollars.

More reports will be detailed in future editions of the Siskiyou Daily News.

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