No. 07, April 17, 1999

River Revival Bulletin

Produced by: River Revival, International Rivers
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703 USA

Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Rani Derasary


  • Dam occupation under way in Thailand -- reparations demanded
  • Dam removal activists invited to Australia in March 2000
  • International Rivers recommends key enhancements to Low Impact Hydropower Institute
  • Dam removal efforts in Arizona oasis
  • Science panel finds Glen Canyon Dam Environmental Assessment flawed
  • River Alliance of Wisconsin shines in fight to restore rivers
  • Efforts under way to restore fish runs on Alameda Creek
  • Help assure the Eel River receives adequate flows!
  • Battle for the fate of the Snake rages on
  • Efforts to save "Wilderness" dams in California
  • Dam rehabilitation fund proposed
  • Unsafe dams scare Texas Legislature
  • Centrifuge Being Used to Test Dam Safety
  • Living Rivers now represented in Pakistan


**Pak Mun Dam, Mun River, Thailand**

Dam occupation under way in Thailand -- reparations demanded

More than 5,000 disgruntled villagers occupied the Pak Mun Dam site in Thailand on March 23 to demand compensation from the Thai government and the Washington DC-based World Bank. Eight groups of villagers affected by various development projects -- including six dams -- in the Northeast of Thailand have united at Pak Mun to demand reparations from the Thai government. The villagers have set up a settlement near the dam and intend to stay indefinitely, until their demands are met.

In a statement released on March 23, the villagers said: "We, the people who have been affected by development projects, have chosen to seize Pak Mun Dam because this dam is the symbol of development, which has caused us serious social and environmental problems. We will fight until we have justice, and the dam builders resolve our problems."

The Pak Mun villagers are demanding compensation of 15 rai (2.4 acres) of land for the 3,080 fishing families who lost fisheries income because of the project. The cost of this would amount to approximately US$45 million. If the Thai government and World Bank fail to respond, villagers are demanding that the dam gates be opened to allow fish to migrate upstream.

The 136 MW Pak Mun Dam, which was completed in 1994, was built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand with US$24 million in financing from the World Bank.

For additional information contact: Ms. Aviva Imhof, International Rivers (phone: 510.848.1155, e-mail:'), or Mr. Chainarong Sretthachau, South-East Asia Rivers Network, Thailand Chapter, (phone:+66.53.221157, e-mail:

**Living Rivers Themed Conference in Australia**

Dam removal activists invited to Australia in March 2000

Pedder 2000, one of the founding members of the international Living Rivers coalition, is planning a series of events to coincide with the year 2000 International Day of Action Against Dams, and For Rivers Water and Life, 10-14 March. The key component will be a conference on ecological restoration, with an emphasis on rivers and dam removal. Pedder 2000 is the lead group working to drain the reservoir that flooded southwest Tasmania's Lake Pedder 27 years ago. The unsuccessful campaign to stop this dam gained worldwide recognition in launching the world's first Green Party.

Tasmania is especially beautiful in March, and numerous guided trips will be possible for those wishing to take time to explore its world renowned wilderness areas. Organizers would like to hear from activists throughout the world who would like to present papers on aspects of land and river restoration they are engaged in, or campaigns to remove dams as a preliminary to restoration. Also, let them know if travel costs may make your participation difficult or impossible. Contact: Helen Gee, Pedder 2000, 130 Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7000 (phone/fax:+, voice mail: +, e-mail:, web: ).


International Rivers recommends key enhancements to Low Impact Hydropower Institute

On March 10, Washington DC-based American Rivers and Vermont-based Green Mountain Energy Resources issued draft final guidelines for the operation of a Low Impact Hydropower Institute. The Institute's primary objective is to enable energy consumers to understand the relative scale of impact associated with certain hydroelectric facilities by operating an environmental organization-led certification program that would label qualifying dams as "low" impact.

In its April 9 comments to Institute principals American Rivers and Green Mountain, International Rivers stated:

"International Rivers recognizes the need to effectively educate the public on their energy and hydropower choices. An institute of the type proposed could play a useful role in this, but only if its programs fully embrace the broad leadership responsibilities associated with these activities, especially as they relate to the larger river management and energy conservation agendas operating at not only the community and national levels, but globally as well. What we in the United States choose to do with regard to river management and energy choices has tremendous repercussions around the world. International Rivers would like to ensure that the repercussions associated with this initiative are not negative. "To that end, International Rivers made a number of recommendations including:

  • that the Institute state clearly that all dams have environmental impacts, and the Institute in no way advocate their existence or the use of their power;
  • that the Institute undertake a program promoting sound river management through energy conservation;
  • that the certification program be based on scientific rationale, and that river ecosystem functions be incorporated into the criteria, and
  • that non-statutory, community concerns about river management and dam decommissioning be taken into consideration, and a broader public notification and participation program for the certification program be developed.

These and other comments are now under review by the Institute. Read International Rivers's detailed comments, or by contacting Owen Lammers (e-mail:'). Additional information about the Low Impact Hydropower Institute is available at: or by contacting Margaret Bowman (e-mail:


**Childs and Irving Dams, Fossil Creek, Arizona**

Dam removal efforts in Arizona oasis

For nearly a century, the waters of Fossil Creek -- a miracle of nature in arid central Arizona -- have been choked off by dams constructed by Arizona Public Service Company (APS). The flows feed the Childs and Irving electric power plants built on the creek's banks. The first dam, about 100 feet high, diverts nearly the entire flow of the creek, leaving only the first quarter mile of Fossil Creek functioning naturally. The rest, a14-mile stretch, lies barren while the water is transported in an ugly scarof a metal flume from plant to plant, never returning to the thirsty streambed.

"Fossil Creek has been sacrificed not to supply mountain communities with essential power, not to support local industries that supply jobs, but to produce a minuscule one-tenth of one-percent of the total power generated by APS," said Lisa Force of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity which is heading up the campaign to have these dams removed.

Now, the license APS needs to operate the Fossil Creek power plants is due for renewal, giving APS the perfect opportunity to forfeit a tiny bit of revenue-producing power to restore this rare ecosystem. Instead, APS has submitted an application to continue operating the plants for another 30years. Unfortunately, the Draft Environmental Assessment prepared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the US Forest Service has recommended that the plants be relicensed with only minor operational changes.

The Southwest Center and several other environmental organizations, including American Rivers, are working to restore full flows to Fossil Creek. This would help to bring back several fish species including the Sonora sucker, roundtail chub and others that once thrived in the creek.

Please send or fax letters to: Bill Post, President and CEO, Arizona Public Service Company, PO Box 53999, Phoenix, AZ 85072-3999 (fax: 602.250.3002,phone: 602.250.2588). Letters and calls should also be directed to: Richard Snell, Chairman and CEO, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, PO Box52132, Phoenix, AZ 85072-2132 (fax: 602.379.2625, phone: 602.379.2600).

For additional information contact: Lisa Force at the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity (phone: 602.246.6498, e-mail:, web:

**Glen Canyon Dam, Colorado River, Utah/Arizona**

Science panel finds Glen Canyon Dam Environmental Assessment flawed

The Bureau of Reclamation's proposal to mitigate Glen Canyon Dam's impacts on endangered fish has run into a problem, potentially boosting the position of activists who want the dam's reservoir drained.

In an uncharacteristic move, the Bureau requested that an independent scientific team review its Environmental Assessment (EA) for installing temperature control devices on the dam's intake towers as the preferred approach to protecting the endangered humpback chub. The scientists found the EA inadequate.

"We support the option of thermal enhancement in the Grand Canyon, however, there isn't enough information presented in the EA to determine if the proposed action (intake modifications) would have the operational flexibility required to enhance native fishes. Also, without a specific and detailed description of the experimental process, it is not possible to determine if the objectives can be achieved or impacts avoided or mitigated," says their report dated April 9.

The report goes on to say, "The preferred alternative appears to have been chosen on the basis of economics and its ability to warm releases. It appears that little or no consideration was given to biological criteria and timing."

According to Glen Canyon Institute (GCI), the only thermal enhancement option that will guarantee protection of native fish habitat is to drain the reservoir. GCI has been spearheading efforts to force the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct a complete Environmental Impact Statement evaluating the feasibility of this approach. For additional information contact: Glen Canyon Institute (phone: 520.556.9311, e-mail: Visit: to view the scientists' report.


**Various Rivers, Wisconsin**

River Alliance of Wisconsin shines in fight to restore rivers

If you're looking for good news, some of the greatest success stories about restoring rivers through dam removal come from the state of Wisconsin. A major program of the River Alliance of Wisconsin involves working with communities and local groups to campaign for the selective removal of small dams. Their Small Dams Program is a collaborative effort between the River Alliance and the national office of Trout Unlimited.

Wisconsin was a leader in building dams. About 3,600 dams are regulated in the state, but Wisconsin has an estimated 10,000 dams including farm ponds. The state is now a national leader in removing these structures as Wisconsin's dams (many 100-150 years old) continue to deteriorate under the pressures of time and the rivers they alter. Examples of removals in the1990s include two dams on the Willow River, and one on the Baraboo River (with two more expected within three years). The latest news from the River Alliance surrounds Shopiere Dam and the Ward Paper Mill Dam. Shopiere Dam on Turtle Creek is an economic burden and has been ownerless since the early 1970s. Similarly, the Ward Paper Mill Dam on the Prairie River has fallen into disrepair. In both cases, the dams cannot simply be ignored, due to safety concerns, and repair represents a far more expensive alternative than removal. The removal of both dams will offer considerable ecological benefits because they are on high quality rivers, as well as improving recreational opportunities for local communities.

In the very near future River Alliance will be announcing a program to restore 20 rivers by the year 2000, details will follow on their web site and in the next Bulletin. For more information on the case studies and more recent developments, please visit River Alliance of Wisconsin's Small Dams Program on the web at, or contact Program Coordinator Stephanie Lindloff (phone: 608.257.2424, e-mail:


**Lower Alameda Creek Dams, Alameda Creek, California**

Efforts under way to restore fish runs on Alameda Creek

The Fremont-based Alameda Creek Alliance is calling for modification or removal of a series of small dams on the largest tributary to San Francisco Bay in order to benefit steelhead, trout and salmon. The Alliance is urging the Alameda County Flood Control District and the Alameda County Water District to construct fish ladders on barriers they own which are blocking fish spawning runs. The San Francisco Water Department is also considering removal of two small dams in the Niles Canyon area of Alameda Creek which are no longer in use. "Give these fish access to spawning habitat in and above Niles Canyon, and they'll restore themselves," said Jeff Miller, spokesperson for the Alliance. "We're close to a solution, if the water districts will cooperate. It's a good time to be a fish in Fremont!" Native steelhead in the creek have been netted and transported past the dams by volunteers for the past two winters.

For more information, contact Jeff Miller at the Alameda Creek Alliance (phone: 510.845.4675, web:

  • "Season's first steelhead trout takes a bow," San Jose Mercury News, 29 January 1999.
  • "Steelhead trout seen again in Alameda Creek," Fremont Argus, 30 January 1999.

**Potter Valley Project, Eel River, California**

Help assure the Eel River receives adequate flows!

On February 15, 1999, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) referencing the conservation of fishery resources at the Potter Valley Project on the Eel River. The DEIS was prepared to reconsider minimum stream flows required to protect and maintain anadromous salmon and steelhead populations in the upper Eel River. On February 25, a public meeting was held on the matter in Ukiah, and another meeting is planned before the comment period ends April 27,1999. Friends of the Eel River is urging the public to participate by attending meetings and submitting comments. Please visit their web site ( for more details.


**Columbia and Snake River Dams, Washington /Oregon**

Columbia - Snake Campaign update - 25-foot salmon to tour US!

With the Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service holding hearings on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Biological Opinion documents this summer or fall, and the Clinton Administration expected to issue a decision on a preferred alternative for saving Columbia and Snake River salmon in December, salmon activists are taking the plight of the dwindling runs to the American people, asking for their help to save the symbol of the Northwest from extinction

Following the construction of the four Snake River dams, built between 1962 and 1975, the river's wild salmon population took a nose dive, and now a panel of independent scientists has found that partially removing the four lower Snake River dams is the only way to restore a stable population. Save Our Wild Salmon and fellow Columbia-Snake River Campaign coalition members, including the National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers, fishing groups and taxpayers, are working together to find solutions that save salmon and a once vibrant commercial and sport fishing economy, and find viable alternatives to the businesses dependent on dams and reservoirs.

In addition to regional outreach and participation in economic and scientific workgroups, the national campaign sets off across the country this spring with "Fin," a 25-foot salmon, to conduct educational advocacy events and draw attention to the issue. The national road show and Fin will begin the migrating fish tour in California and Nevada in mid-May, followed by a fall run across the Midwest and East Coast.

For more information on how you can comment on the agency studies and help save Columbia and Snake River salmon in your own state, contact campaign National Outreach Director Kathy Crist (phone: 503.243.3814, e-mail:, web:

Scientists send message to the White House to restore Lower Snake

More than 200 Northwest scientists recently signed on to a letter to Bill Clinton warning that Snake River salmon will likely face extinction if certain dams remain. The scientists urged the Clinton Administration to abandon the failed practices of barging and trucking young fish around the lower Snake and Columbia River dams and instead move to restore the lower Snake River to a free-flowing state. The letter states that Snake River salmon runs have declined by nearly 90 percent since the Army Corps of Engineers built four 100-foot-high dams on the lower Snake River in the1960s and 70s.

"It is painfully obvious that 20 years of technological fixes have not overcome the problems caused by the four lower Snake River dams," said Dr. Robert Behnke, a Colorado State University fisheries professor long recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on salmonids. "Either we change course now and restore the lower Snake to a semblance of a river, or we will likely lose forever a unique and precious genetic resource that cannot be replaced. It would be a terrible tragedy if we allowed the salmon and steelhead of the Snake River to go extinct."

University of Idaho dams vs. salmon conference highlights Lower Snake dams

On April 3, 1999, the University of Idaho's Environmental Law Society (ELS) held a conference focusing on the heated debate over the fate of the four lower Snake River dams. The theme was "alternative approaches to the anadromous fish population crisis." Most attendees vociferously supported breaching these dams, though there was a healthy mix of interested parties representing most sides of this multi-faceted issue. James Buchal, attorney and author of "The Great Salmon Hoax," gave a presentation attributing declines in anadromous fish runs on commercial overharvest and downplaying the role that dams play. Other presenters focused on the political feasibility of and scientific justification for breaching the lower Snake River dams. Within a few weeks Pacifica Radio will be reporting on the four lower Snake River dams and the brewing political storm surrounding the call to breach them, including excerpts from the ELS conference ( For more information on ELS, contact Nick Merrill (e-mail:

Lower Snake River tops 10 Most Endangered Rivers list

American Rivers announced this year's 10 Most Endangered Rivers list on April 12, naming the lower Snake River in Washington State the most endangered river in America. Over a million salmon and steelhead once migrated up the Snake every year. But today, the river's salmon runs are close to extinction because four dams on the lower river have destroyed its natural flow. According to American Rivers President Rebecca Wodder, "A terrible hoax is being perpetrated on the American taxpayer. Every year we spend millions more on bizarre schemes to try to save these fish and every year fewer and fewer fish return to spawn." All five species of Snake River salmon are now listed under the Endangered Species Act. Along with the devastation caused by dams, American Rivers cited urban sprawl as the major threat to today's river ecosystems. For American Rivers' full list and extensive additional information visit:


**Dam Preservation Legislation Hits US Congress**

Efforts to save "Wilderness" dams in California

Republican Congressman John Doolittle has introduced legislation that requires the reconstruction and operation of 18 dams in the Emigrant Wilderness, located in California's Stanislaus National Forest. Misleadingly titled "Emigrant Wilderness Preservation" the legislation represents a major step toward preserving totally unnecessary dams.

The stated purpose of the Wilderness Act is to assure that some areas within the United States are not "occupied and modified" by human activity, and are preserved and protected in a natural state. The Act directs that wilderness areas and any allowable uses are to be administered so as to preserve the wilderness character of the area and specifically prohibits structures, unless necessary for administrative purposes. The proposed legislation not only overrides the Wilderness Act, but also sets a precedent for further federally sanction efforts to preserve dams.

Please send letters to oppose this proposed legislation, H.R. 359, to your congressional representative at the US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515. For additional information, contact: Steve Brougher, Central Sierra Wilderness Watch, PO Box 669, Twain Harte, CA 95383 (phone: 209.928.1890).

Dam rehabilitation fund proposed

Oklahoma Republican Congressman Frank Lucas has introduced legislation that would spend $600 million over the next 10 years to rehabilitate thousands of small, upstream watershed dams across the country. A House Agriculture subcommittee held a hearing on the bill on April 14. Lucas said he wants "to get across that these dams are part of our basic infrastructure, like the highways, like the airports." According to Lucas, "If we spend a little money up front, we can prevent huge costs" in the future.

  • "Lawmaker Seeks Support for Dam Bill," Daily Oklahoman, 15 April 1999.


**Various dams, Texas**

Unsafe dams scare Texas Legislature

The Texas State Legislature is taking up the issue of hazardous dams. A bill under consideration states: "Texas has a large number of communities that lie in floodplains due to the close proximity of 'high hazard' or 'significant hazard' dams." The bill recommends that the legislature require cities and counties to adopt the necessary measures to be eligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. This would include an additional 106 counties and 396 cities. The bill does not list which dams are unsafe.

  • LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARD, Austin, Texas FISCAL NOTE, 76th Regular Session, 26 February 1999, HB1018 by Denny (relating to participation of cities and counties in the National Flood Insurance Program).

Centrifuge being used to test dam safety

At the University of Colorado-Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science, a huge centrifuge with an 80,000-pound swinging arm and a box for carrying heavy payloads is being used to whirl a miniature earthen dam at200 miles per hour. By "flying" the tiny dam at high speeds using the 900 horsepower motor of America's most powerful centrifuge, researchers can determine how sinkholes move to the surface of full-sized earthen dams under stress. The centrifuges are constructed so water can be added to miniature dams in flight to simulate the erosion effects of earthen dam "overtopping," and to determine failure points, said civil engineering professor Hon-Yim Ko. Researchers use "shake tables" that move laterally inside the payload boxes to simulate soil behavior under earthquake conditions. Some of the first experiments involved testing the strength and failure points of three-foot-high concrete dams reinforced with steel. The tests are providing new clues that may help mitigate potentially catastrophic incidents. While computer simulations have become a popular technology of predicting the outcomes of geophysical events, physical-modeling studies like those performed in centrifuges and wind tunnels are invaluable, according to Ko. For more information contact Hon-Yim Ko (phone: 303.492.6716, e-mail:


Living Rivers Now Represented in Pakistan

Pakistan's SUNGI Development Foundation recently signed on to the Walker Creek Declaration, joining the international Living Rivers coalition for the restoration of rivers and communities affected by dams.

We thank them for their support. If you would like contact information for SUNGI Development Foundation or any of the other members of Living Rivers, and/or if you know of other organizations interested in endorsing the declaration and joining Living Rivers, please contact us.