Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Klamath Hydroelectric agreement 2
What's happening with Savage Rapids Dam removal in Rogue Valley?

by Dr. Richard Gierak 2/16/10

Proposal is to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California. This relates to the technical disaster on the Rogue River in Oregon when they removed the Savage Rapids Dam.

Savage Rapids Dam was built In 1941 and was 40 feet tall and created a backwater pool that extends from ˝ to 2 ˝ miles upstream. The dam had fish ladders to allow migrating fish to move upstream and spawn in their natural spawning grounds.

With the advent of radical environmental pressure the dam has been removed with disastrous results. The best laid plans of the Bureau of Reclamation has failed miserably and created a local nightmare.

To fully understand the dilemma created by removal of this dam under the auspices of the Bureau of Reclamation I would refer you to the article published on February 8, 2010 in the Medford Mail Tribune. These dam removal projects have been instigated by radical environmentalists to quote, “restore natural rivers and salmon populations” Scientific analysis and data indicated the decrease in Salmon populations are due to the warming of the Pacific Ocean driving Salmon North as evidenced by large runs in Washington, Canada and Alaska. Secondarily, the protection of seals by the ESA now finds them in harbors, estuaries and fish ladders gorging themselves on Salmon. Finally, there are tribal members setting gill nets across the entire river in violation of the law.

Here, we were dealing with a small dam, and yet, unforeseen problems will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to have it partially functional at best.. Consider what can happen when four large dams on the Klamath River would be torn down. With the history of large scale mining and Cinnabar mines on the river the sludge behind these dams will be highly toxic and to allow this sludge to go downriver would be disastrous for flora and fauna alike.

We would expect hundreds of millions of dollars to remove this toxic sludge and perhaps billions. Not only would the cost be out of control but the removal of these dams would allow disease ridden Salmon to move above the dams and decimate an entire ecological system that has been in place for over 100 years. This could also destroy the flyways for migrating birds let alone subject the towns and private property owners downstream to expect swamps and marshes in the summer and inundating floods in wet winters destroying property values and homes.


More work begins on Savage Rapids

Accumulated gravel and rock after the dam's removal will require a series of fixes to make an irrigation pumping station usable again

The federal Bureau of Reclamation is developing a plan to redirect the river channel at Savage Rapids to the south bank to provide water for irrigation pumps that replaced the dam .Jamie Lusch

February 08, 2010

By Mark Freeman

Mail Tribune

The Rogue River's newly reconstituted “Savage Rapids” created by last fall's removal of Savage Rapids Dam isn't behaving the way water managers want it to.

So the new rapid is due for a set of reconstruction measures meant to make the Rogue bend there in a way that keeps the Grants Pass Irrigation District in business.

Construction crews as early as late this week will move about 6,500 cubic yards of gravel and rock once trapped behind the dam so it won't continue clogging GPID's pumping station built downstream to replace the dam.

Next summer, work crews likely will build a jetty or some other structure off the river's north bank to redirect the Rogue Ricer toward the pumps on the river's south bank.
Without the diversion, the plant could be left high and dry because the river has chosen to hug the north bank and steer away from the plant's water intakes ever since the rapid was restored in October.

“That's what we need to make this work,” GPID manager Dan Shepard said. “As long as that jetty's part of it, we're getting what we need.”

Officials from the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which has overseen the $39.3 million project, just can't seem to shake themselves free of the Rogue's biggest dam-removal effort, which has been more than 20 years in the making.

Bureau officials hope moving the gravels and sediments and building the jetty will remove any lingering doubts about whether the river and GPID's pumping station can coexist where the Rogue's worst fish-killer once stood.

“We have every intention to address this so the district isn't in the lurch,” said Bob Hamilton, the bureau's project manager.

We think it will work perfectly when the sediment is moved,” Hamilton said. “We view the jetty as an insurance policy. When we walk away, we want to have that insurance policy.”

Nothing has worked perfectly at Savage Rapids since Slayden Construction Group crews breached a temporary dam and sent water streaming through the rapid for the first time since the old dam was built in 1921.

The construction plans assumed that a series of winter storms would carry away an estimated 250,000 cubic yards of gravel, rocks and other debris freed by the dam's removal.

But no such storm has materialized. The only freshet of sorts came on New Year's Eve, but the brief peak flow of 10,000 cubic feet per second was high enough only to move tons of gravel in front of the plant's water intakes.

“Mother Nature didn't provide the flood that we need,” Hamilton said.

So what was planned to happen naturally must be done artificially.

The bureau is in the process of amassing permits necessary to allow Slayden crews to dig out an estimated 3,500 cubic yards of gravel from in front of the intakes and push it downstream.

Meanwhile, Hamilton is negotiating with Slayden to enter the Rogue during a low-flow window to push an estimated 5,000 cubic yards of gravel from the middle of the Rogue channel to the south bank, behind what's left of the concrete dam. The rock cannot be hauled away because that would be considered mining.

That alone won't solve GPID's potential water woes, Shepard said.

Because the Rogue's new meander takes it away from the plant, plans now call for building a rock jetty or some other structure to push the stream south so it flows past the screened intake.

Engineers from the Bureau of Reclamation will design that structure this year, and construction likely will occur in mid-summer when water flows are low, Hamilton said. Whatever the design, it is not expected to be a navigational hazard for boaters, he said.

Hamilton said a ballpark estimate for the jetty was “a couple hundred thousand dollars.”
Slayden was expected to be under budget for the overall project, but all the bills have not reached the bureau, so no estimate was available Friday on how far below budget the project was.

Hamilton said he anticipated that enough money would remain to fund the jetty work.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail at mfreeman@mailtribune.com .


Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday February 18, 2010 02:44 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2010, All Rights Reserved