April 7, 2020
Maven's Notebook 4/7/2020
From the State Water Resources Control Board:
The State Water Board today
issued key documents that move the Klamath River Renewal
Corporation (KRRC) significantly closer to removing four
dams and re-opening 360 miles of the Klamath River and its
tributaries to imperiled salmon.
The board issued a Final
Water Quality Certification permit and Final
Environmental Impact Report. The permit conditions will
become part of the broader Lower Klamath Project License
Surrender Order that must be issued by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) before the dams can be
decommissioned and removed.
One of the largest dam-removal
efforts in U.S. history, the project primarily consists of
removing three dams in northern California (Copco No. 1,
Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate) and one in southern Oregon (J.C.
The State Water Board action
comes after an extensive process that began with the KRRC’s
application for a Water Quality Certification in 2016. The
process involved numerous public meetings in the project
area and resulted in adoption of an environmental impact
report that considered and responded to more than 2,600
“Decades in the making, this
historic and comprehensive project will help restore native
fish populations, and improve water quality in the Klamath
Basin,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair E.
Joaquin Esquivel. “The strategic removal of aging dams
contributes to the restoration of our watersheds and
reconnects our landscapes and ecosystems in critical ways.
This major restoration project that began in 2008 to remove
the dams is now one step closer to becoming a reality.”
As analyzed in the State Water
Board’s Environmental Impact Report, long-term water quality
benefits of dam removal include a more-natural range of
water temperatures, reduced fish disease, and elimination or
reduction of the growth of the toxic blue-green algae that
threatens the health of humans, animals, and fish.
The project incorporates
portions of the 2010 Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement
Agreement, a collaboration that includes the owner of the
dams (PacifiCorp), tribes, federal, state and local
agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and conservation
and fishing groups. PacifiCorp is asking FERC to transfer
ownership to the nonprofit KRRC, which was formed in 2016 to
carry out the dam-removal project.
The State Water Board supports
efforts to improve the Klamath River watershed, but it is
not a party to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement
Agreement. California’s Natural Resources Agency and
Department of Fish and Wildlife signed the document as
representatives of the state.
The Water Board’s regulatory
role in this process as the state agency responsible for
implementing the Clean Water Act is limited to protection of
For more detailed information
on the Klamath River Project, please visit the Frequently
Asked Questions document and visit the Lower
Klamath Project page.