No. 12, October 29, 1999

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Owen Lammers


  • Dam decommissioning pleas in Japan
  • Activists call for removal of Thai dam
  • Effort to revive Snowy River watershed
  • New "paper" dam preservationist coalition forms in US
  • Slade Watch
  • Restore the North Fork of the American River
  • Babbitt endorses Matilija Dam removal
  • Dam operation stalled to protect endangered species
  • Dam owners work with activists to accelerate agreements
  • Diverse interests agree to remove Condit Dam
  • New report offers possible solution to Snake River grain transport issue
  • Cooperative effort to restore habitat in Idaho
  • Corps of Engineers proposes restoration solutions for the Des Plaines River
  • Baraboo River on the road to recovery
  • Congratulations to Friends of the Rappahannock
  • Demolition of Columbia Dam brings back tragedy for uprooted families
  • Atlantic salmon protection could increase dam removal
  • Babbitt's campaign hits Potomac

**Nagara Estuary Dam, Nagara River, Japan**

Dam decommissioning pleas in Japan

In 1994 the gates lowered on the Nagara Estuary Dam, impounding for the first time one of only two undammed rivers left in Japan. But the thousands of activists, who fought the most celebrated river conservation campaign in Japan, have not given up. They have persisted in calling for the permanent raising of these gates, and the restoration of the free flowing river. In just five years, commercial fisherman along the 160 km length of the river have seen catches steadily decline, in both number and size of fish, so much so that the commercial fishing has nearly disappeared. Some 100 species of fish once thrived in the Nagara, and it is now feared that many will soon disappear. With more than 30,000 dammed rivers in Japan, it is hoped that these efforts to continue fighting for the Nagara will stimulate decommissioning and dam removal initiatives on rivers in Japan, similar to what began in the United States a decade ago.

For additional information contact Miori Aoyama, Society to Protect the Nagara River,


Activists call for removal of Thai dam

For seven months thousands of people affected by the construction of the Pak Mun dam and several other dams in Thailand have been occupying the Pak Mun dam site. They have been demanding that the Thai government alter the Pak Mun dam's operating regime to help restore the Mun River fishery. Since the dam was completed in 1994, more than 25,000 people have lost their primary source of food. According to Assembly of the Poor, "Many kinds of fish have vanished, and the river has become a place for bacteria." Frustrated with the lack of response from the Thai government, activists have now increased their demands, calling for the full-scale removal of the dam. "Remove the dam. Give us back the Nature" is now their campaign slogan. Additionally, reparations for the losses incurred by people affected by dam building in Thailand remains a key demand of the protesters.

For additional information contact Southeast Asia Rivers Network (SEARIN), Tel/Fax (6653)-22115, e-mail


Effort to revive Snowy River watershed

Political pressure from environmentalists may cause the state governments of Australia's New South Wales and Victoria to boost Snowy River flows to 28 percent of original levels. Opponents argue that the associated hydro-electric scheme would lose an estimated A$188 million in revenue, and losses to agricultural production could bring the impact up to A$343 million. Agreement on flows must be reached before the governments can move ahead and corporatise the Snowy scheme. It is proposed that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority and Snowy Hydro Trading Ltd. be brought together in Snowy Hydro Ltd.



New "paper" dam preservationist coalition forms in US

Supporters of hydroelectric power generation in the United States have lent their name to the formation of WaterPower: The Clean Energy Coalition. Claiming that "overwhelming regulatory burdens and costs" associated with the federal hydropower relicensing process are causing many hydropower projects to face uncertain futures, a group of hydro industry supporters have retained the Wexler Group, a Washington DC based lobbying firm, to help assemble and manage WaterPower. The primary mission is to influence Congressional support for changes in the relicensing procedures. Specifically, the Wexler Group's clients are aiming to "secure meaningful improvement to the hydroelectric licensing process, such as those contained in the 'Hydroelectric Licensing Process Improvement Act of 1999' (H.R. 2335/ S.740)." The initiative appears to be spearheaded by the National Hydropower Association, who announced the formation of WaterPower in an October 13, 1999 press release. The Association states that some 300 entities have so far lent their name to this paper coalition.

For additional information:

Slade Watch

The most adamant opponent to dam removal in the US Congress, Senator Slade Gorton (R-Washington), succeeded in pushing through legislation that will preclude the Bonneville Power Administration from raising its electricity rates to fund dam removal. Trying to head-off a potential source for financing the proposed removal of four dams on the Snake River in Washington, Senator Gorton attached the restriction to an annual spending bill for energy and water projects. Northwest ratepayers, he said, "should not have to pay for something they do not want."

  • Barnett, Jim, "BPA can't raise rates to fund dam removal: A new law still will allow the agency to increase its electricity prices to cover its federal debt payments," The Oregonian, 30 September, 1999.


**American River, CA**

Restore the North Fork of the American River

Since the 1970s, controversy has surrounded the proposed Auburn Dam, and the debate has widened to include the issue of a tunnel built to facilitate dam construction. For nearly a quarter-century, about five miles of this river have been off limits to the public because of dangers posed by the dam construction site. Most dangerous of all is the three-quarter-mile tunnel that diverts the river from its channel near where the dam was to be built. The horseshoe-shaped tunnel captures the entire river's flow except during huge storms, when the waters briefly return to the channel.

Restoring this river would involve not only plugging this tunnel since just downstream the partial construction of the dam and the collapse of the cofferdam have left from 20 to 100 feet of sediment and boulders in the channel. Removing these many tons of materials will cost millions. Nothing about this dam site escapes intense local politics. Dam supporters want to keep the river flowing through the tunnel to prevent "the river-loving public from growing accustomed to rafting this stretch of river and thus intensifying the anti-dam constituency." Rafting enthusiasts and environmental groups have the opposite political motives. No doubt this new tunnel debate will be viewed through these political prisms.

  • Editorial, "The new Auburn war: Should the American's north fork be restored?" Sacramento Bee, 8 October, 1999.

**Matilija Dam, Ventura River, CA**

Babbitt endorses Matilija Dam removal

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has announced that the removal of Matilija Dam must be a top priority to save the imperiled, migratory southern steelhead and restore sand flows to Ventura County beaches while also striking a blow against the nation's larger dams. In the past two years, Babbitt has toured the nation's rivers and streams, sledgehammer in hand, taking symbolic whacks at small dams marked for removal. "He's taken out a whole bunch of dams, but they have all been 3 to 17 feet tall," said Mark Capelli, executive director of Friends of the Ventura River. "[Matilija] would be the highest dam ever removed in the United States."

The 52-year-old dam was built to store drinking and agricultural water for the Ojai Valley and to reduce flood hazards on the Ventura River. Today, however, it is full of mud, provides little water and is crumbling. Though decaying sections have been removed, it still stands 190 feet tall and 620 feet wide. The costs of removal may be extraordinary, past studies have estimated the cost at between $3 million and $150 million, although most officials say $80 million is a reasonable estimate. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Geological Survey and Army Corps of Engineers are conducting studies on how to remove the dam. "We need to get the study back to make sure there are no insoluble problems, then work on financing issues," Babbitt said.

For more information contact Mark Capelli with Friends of the Ventura River at 805.682.5240.

  • Polakovic, Gary "Babbitt Says Removing Dam Is A Top Priority - Environment: Secretary of Interior believes razing structure to help endangered fish, replenish beaches would set important precedent," Los Angeles Times, 9 October, 1999.

**Seven Oaks Dam, Santa Ana River, CA**

Dam operation stalled to protect endangered species

The 550-foot-high dam near Redlands was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, intending to protect downriver residents against the 100-year flood and was supposed to be operating by now. But as the dam neared completion, environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the corps seeking to protect the endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat, whose habitat lies directly in front of the dam. The suit also seeks to protect two endangered plants, the Santa Ana River woolly star and the slender-horned spineflower. The environmental groups, which also include the California Native Plant Society and the Tri-County Conservation League, accuse the corps of failing to provide a consultation as soon as it knew that the Fish and Wildlife Service was considering the kangaroo rat for the endangered list. The rats and the plants need open sandy areas that flood regularly, and changing that environment to a highly controlled one would destroy the habitat, argues the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson.

For more information call the California Native Plant Society at 916.447.CNPS, or write the Tri-County Conservation League at P.O. Box 51127 Riverside, CA 92517.



Dam owners work with activists to accelerate agreements

To circumvent the long, bureaucratic and often litigious process dam owners in the US face for relicensing their hydroelectric facilities, Avista Corporation has found a new strategy. Working cooperatively with a multitude of environmental organizations, sports fishing groups, Indian tribes and federal and state agencies, Avista hammered out an agreement for a 45-year license for its two largest dams. $225 million will be spent for fish and wildlife restoration. "They knew they couldn't avoid a fight," said Steven Moyer, vice president of conservation at Trout Unlimited. "What they decided is to have the fight in a small room with all the stakeholders rather then in the press and in the courts, which is the usual way." Similar "alternative" licensing approaches are now being employed by about 40 percent of the cases no before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

**Condit Dam, White Salmon River, WA**

Diverse interests agree to remove Condit Dam

A voluntary agreement between the Yakama Nation, PacifiCorp, American Rivers, the state of Washington, the U.S. Department of Interior, National Marine Fisheries Service and the Forest Service has been reached to remove Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in southwestern Washington state. The agreement allows Condit to continue operating for the next seven years to help generate funds to offset dam-removal costs. "Condit Dam removal has long been our goal," said Randy Settler, fish and wildlife chairman, Yakama Nation Tribal Council. "Today's agreement recognizes the Yakama Nation as co-manager of the White Salmon River fishery resource."

For more information contact Carol Craig, Yakama Nation at 509.865.6262 or Katherine Ransel, American Rivers at 206.213.0330. Visit American Rivers' press information on Condit Dam removal at

  • "Historic Condit Dam Removal Agreement to be Signed," Press Release, 22 September, 1999.
  • Espensen, Barry, "Negotiators Announce Condit Dam Removal," The Columbia Basin Bulletin: Weekly Fish and Wildlife News, 20-24 September, 1999.

**Lower Snake River Dams, WA**

New report offers possible solution to Snake River grain transport issue

Investing in highway and rail infrastructure would keep grain transportation rates affordable if the four lower Snake River dams were removed, according to a former high-ranking Corps of Engineers official. Dr. G. Edward Dickey, author of the report, "Grain Transportation After Partial Removal of the Four Lower Snake River Dams: an affordable and efficient transition plan," concludes that prudent, timely investments in rail and highway infrastructure could provide an affordable transportation alternative to the lower Snake River waterway.

For more information contact Justin Hayes 202.347.7550 or Rob Masonis 206.213.0330 of American Rivers. Visit American Rivers' Web site


Cooperative effort to restore habitat in Idaho

Crown Pacific, together with Idaho Fish & Game and Trout Unlimited, have joined forces to restore an old sawmill site in northern Idaho, including the breaching of a dam and pond at the site. Idaho Fish & Game identified and recommended specific projects for Crown Pacific to complete as part of the Colburn project. According to Mark Taylor, Idaho Department of Fish & Game Landowner/Sportsmen Relations Coordinator, "This is a project where industry, a conservation group, and government came together with a common goal -- to restore and improve fish and wildlife habitat."

"This public-private partnership," says Peter W. Stott, Crown Pacific President and Chief Executive Officer, "provides for improved fish and wildlife habitat at this site, particularly for native fish species. By breaching the dam and creating a fish ladder and improved stream-side environment, we are doing our part in helping preserve and protect native species like the West Slope cutthroat, as well as introduced species such as the Garrard rainbow trout (Kamloops)."

"This project is a strong step forward in protecting native species like the West Slope cutthroat and in restoring its native habitat," stated Bob Dunnagan, TU Idaho Council Chairman.

  • "Crown Pacific, Idaho Department of Fish & Game and Trout Unlimited Join In Unique Fish Project," PR Newswire, 17 September, 1999.

**Hofmann Dam, Des Plaines River, IL**

Corps of Engineers proposes restoration solutions for the Des Plaines River

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to punch out a 140-foot section of the 258-foot-wide Hofmann Dam on the Des Plaines River. The plan, which would take about two years to implement, comes at a time when biologists and waterway experts are pushing to remove dams to alleviate environmental damage they've caused, said Bob Rung, a stream biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Corps also proposes initially to punch holes in two other dams: Fairbank Dam, a smaller rip dam about 200 yards downriver of the Hofmann Dam, and the Armitage Avenue Dam upriver on Cook County Forest Preserve property near Elmwood Park. Ultimately, the plan might include all 12 dams along the Des Plaines River in the Chicago area. "You'd open almost 20 miles of river for these fish to migrate and spawn," said Jason Gorski, a Chicago resident who serves as president of the Hofmann Dam River Rats, which stocks and works to beautify the river.

For more information contact Jason Gorski of the Hofmann Dam River Rats at 707.585.4004, or e-mail him at

**Various dam removals, Baraboo River, WI**

Baraboo River on the road to recovery

Because of state and national interest in dam removals, people are carefully watching the Baraboo River ecosystem to see how it responds to removal of the Baraboo Waterworks Dam in 1998. Scientists are watching for clues to the potential effects of removing three more dams along the Baraboo River, two of them in Baraboo and one northwest at LaValle. Preliminary studies suggest that the dam's removal has significantly improved habitat for riverine fish and insect communities along the Baraboo River above the dam site. "We're seeing more smallmouth bass and more darters because of the return to flowing water, and fewer nuisance fish like carp," said Dave Marshall, a Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.

The Oak Street Dam in Baraboo is scheduled for removal in January 2000, the LaValle Dam is to be removed in 2001, and the Linen Mills Dam in Baraboo, known locally as the Glenville Dam, is scheduled to be removed in 2003 at the latest. That final removal will allow 120 miles of the Baraboo River to achieve a free-flowing condition not seen since the 1840s.

For information about small dam removal efforts in Wisconsin, contact Stephanie Lindloff of the River Alliance of Wisconsin at 608.257.2424.

  • "Research finds removal of dams improves water quality, fish populations," Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources listserv, 22 September, 1999.

Congratulations to Friends of the Rappahannock

The Conservation Fund Industries National Watershed Award's judges panel has again identified four unique watershed programs that have found innovative and creative solutions to a variety of problems faced by their rivers and bays. "We're honoring people who have clearly demonstrated that the most diverse interests can work together to protect the quality of our waters," said Robert C. Liuzzi, president of award founder CF Industries, Inc. One of the winning groups is from Virginia; Growing Greener, Conservation Through Cooperation and Bring the Dam Down are three targeted partnerships run by volunteers in the Rappahannock-Rapidan Watershed Partnerships. The Friends of the Rappahannock worked with developers, site engineers and county government to implement a state-of-the-art parking lot biofiltration to decrease pollution from runoff.

For further information on the awards, call The Conservation Fund at 304.876.2815.

To learn more about their work, contact John Tippett of the Friends of the Rappahannock at 540.373.3448.

  • "Inspired People Find Unique Ways to Protect Watersheds," Press Release, 13 September, 1999.

**Columbia Dam, Duck River, TN**

Demolition of Columbia Dam brings back tragedy for uprooted families

On a basin along the Duck River, bulldozer-size hydraulic hammers chip away each weekday at 26,000 cubic yards of concrete that for 16 years stood as a monument to failure. The Tennessee Valley Authority's unfinished Columbia Dam will never hold back a drop of water. It is being demolished. For hundreds of people who saw their families uprooted and homesteads bulldozed to make way for the project in the 1970s, a bitter taste returned in May with the announcement that the dam would come down. TVA cited safety among its reasons for the demolition, but construction and land expenses have also risen steeply since 1967, from a projected $50 million to $200 million. Another factor was the 1977 listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of a number of freshwater mussels to its list of endangered species, including two in the Duck River: the birdwing pearly mussel and the Cumberland monkeyface pearly mussel. It determined the mussels would be jeopardized if the dam were completed. Efforts to transplant the inch-long creatures to other streams were unsuccessful, unlike at TVA's Tellico Dam where endangered snail darters thrived elsewhere and allowed the Little Tennessee River project to be completed in 1979. "That pretty well sunk us there," Ferry said of the Columbia project.


Atlantic salmon protection could increase dam removal

Atlantic salmon may at last receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. A biological status report released jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service confirms conservationists' claim that wild Atlantic salmon are in danger of extinction. The report call for dams and other water diversion controls to assure that adequate river flows are maintained, and recreational fishing

and aquaculture safeguards are established. Once listed as endangered, river activists will have additional ammunition to call for he removal of those dams that are impeding Atlantic salmon migration.

One of the largest threats, however, is domestically raised salmon, the fastest-growing segment of US agriculture. Farm-bred salmon threaten the genetic integrity of wild salmon by breeding with them. In addition, domesticated salmon often spread disease to wild salmon populations. The decision to consider listing Atlantic Salmon as endangered stemmed from a law-suit filed by conservation groups in January, 1999. It could take another 15 months for the determination process to be completed.

**Little Falls Dam, Potomac River, MD**

Babbitt dam removal campaign hits Potomac

US Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has been criss-crossing the United States removing dozens of obsolete, unsafe and fish-blocking dams that don't make sense. On October 12, he brought his message that dams must not be allowed to continually operate at the peril of river ecosystems, to the nation's capital. Presiding over a ceremony at the Little Falls Dam across the Potomac, Babbitt joined Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Gov. Parris Glendening and Congresswoman Constance Morella, all of Maryland, Brig. Gen. Stephen Rhaodes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others, in praising the Little Falls project. The project involved installing a new fishway that will enable the seven species of fish that have had their journey's halted by the 12 foot-high dam soon pass with ease.

Contact: Olivia Ferriter, 703-648-4054, or Kate Kase, 703-648-4216, both of the U.S. Geological Survey;
Web site: