No. 26, May 31, 2001

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak









**Kalabagh Dam (proposed), Pakistan**
Drought revives Kalabagh Dam construction campaign

According to a news report, the government has decided in principle to construct Kalabagh Dam for meeting the growing water demand of all the provinces. The Kalabagh Dam project has been in the Pakistan press since early 1980s. Sensing the devastating financial impacts of water shortage on economy, especially the agriculture sector, the Chief Executive Secretariat has assigned the task to the relevant authority for creating consensus among the provinces within 15 days. The water situation is going from bad to worse with every passing day. The Punjab is feeling the more heat as Sindh is drawing extra water from Punjabs share. According to a report, Thal, Taunsa Punjnad Link and DG Khan canals in Punjab will start drying up one after other due to acute water shortage, which would badly affect coming cotton crops. After feeling the negative impacts of water shortage on the economy, dam proponents have begun a fresh campaign for the construction of the Kalabagh Dam. If constructed in spite of public objections (including inequalities in distribution of water and electricity), his dam could be as high as 285 meters and produce 2,400-MW of electricity. The $7 billion dam would be Pakistan's second largest. This dam would be built downstream of the Tarbela Dam on the Indus River, which carries the fifth highest sediment load in the world

View a June 2000 protest letter against the dam here:

(Ahmad, Imtiaz, "Save land from becoming desert," The Nation, 30 April 2001.)


Removal of inadequate dam and debris basin; residents fear catastrophic flood

A developer is preparing to tear down a Depression-era earthen embankment, near the mouth of a Rancho Cucamonga canyon, which some say provides indispensable protection for hundreds of homes, several schools and the nearby airport. Part of the 1.3-mile-long levee could come down any day. The decision to remove it is based on the US Army Corps of Engineers' widely disputed contention that a dam and debris basin built in 1983 can stop the torrent of mud and rock that could spew out of the San Gabriel Mountains in the event of a major flood. Prominent among the corps'' dissenters is one of its own, Robert Kirby, a former hydrological engineer who helped design the structure. Kirby has signed an affidavit saying he is concerned about homes, businesses and schools because he fears the Deer Creek Debris Basin has only about 40% of the flood-control capacity it was designed for. Many have expressed doubts about the debris basin (a stadium-like structure formed by the 57-foot-high dam at the mouth of the canyon), including a California Department of Water Resources task force, two consultants hired by homeowners and Ontario airport officials.

(Mozingo, Joe, "Plan to Level Levee Alarms Residents;" Los Angeles Times, 20 May 2001.)


**Condit Dam, White Salmon River, WA**
Plan to remove dam runs into delays

Environmentalists, American Indians and corporate executives gathered in a downtown Portland ballroom in September 1999 to announce a unique agreement: Condit Dam, a 125-foot-tall impediment to wild steelhead and salmon since it was erected in the White Salmon River in 1932, would be removed in 2006. "Once again, we have the opportunity to see the fish alive," William Yallup, tribal chairman of the Yakama Nation, said at the time. Now, the agreement has been stalled by bureaucratic delays and concerns raised by residents who don't want to lose the reservoir behind the dam. The dam owner, PacifiCorp, agreed to remove the hydroelectric dam rather than install expensive fish ladders. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must decide whether to approve the settlement submitted by PacifiCorp a year and a half ago. If the commission accepts the agreement, Condit will become the largest dam to be removed in the United States. A coalition of at least 14 environmental groups have spent months pressing FERC to act on the settlement, since the accord includes a September 2002 deadline, after which any party can walk away.

(Robinson, Erik, "Plan to remove dam runs into delays," The Columbian, 18 May 2001.)

**Snake River Dams, WA**
Corps claims Snake River dam operations not responsible for temperature problems

Responding to a federal court order, the US Army Corps of Engineers insists that Snake River dam operations are not overheating the water and killing salmon, and no changes at those facilities will cool the water. In February 2000, US District Judge Helen Frye found that the Corps' operation of four Snake River dams in eastern Washington violated the Clean Water Act by raising water temperatures to levels dangerous to fish. She ordered the Corps to report in 60 days on how it would meet federal water quality standards. The ruling added weight to arguments that removing the four dams was necessary to save threatened and endangered runs of salmon in the Snake River Basin from extinction. In papers filed in early May, the Corps said the existence of the dams "may contribute" to raising the water temperature in the river. But the Corps concluded that operating the dams has no significant impact on water temperatures. "There are no operational changes that we can undertake to significantly decrease river water temperatures," the report said. "I am very, very disheartened by the Corps' response," said Kristen Boyles, a lawyer with Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund in Seattle, which filed suit on behalf of environmentalists, the state of Oregon and the Nez Perce Tribe. John Kober of the National Wildlife Federation said the Corps failed to address the problems in a meaningful way. "What we hoped ... is that they would modify the system at the dam sites and refurbish the systems to reflect some positive steps for water temperatures," Kober said. "We realize they're expensive changes but? they're changes that need to be made."

(Brandt, Aviva, "Corps: Operation of Snake River dams not responsible for temperature problems," Associated Press, 16 May 2001.)

Conservation groups abandon talks on Hells Canyon

A coalition of conservation groups announced May 8 that it is withdrawing from discussions with Idaho Power Co. on relicensing of the Hells Canyon complex of dams. Among other things, the coalition - comprised of American Rivers, Idaho Rivers United, Hells Canyon Preservation Council and Trout Unlimited - said Idaho Power has stifled discussions of important issues. "Since Idaho Power is not willing to even discuss, let alone implement, important studies, such as how to protect fish from the impact of the dams, it is a waste of our time to continue to attend these meetings," said coalition member Connie Kelleher. Idaho Power owns and operates the three-dam complex on the mainstem of the Snake River. The dams operate under a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which expires in 2005. The power company is currently studying the impact of its dams and proposing terms for its new license. The dams, which lack fish ladders, block chinook salmon from reaching 80 percent of their Snake River habitat. In February, the commission rejected demands by Indian tribes and environmentalists that Idaho Power be forced to study removal of its Hells Canyon dams as part of its relicensing efforts.

(The Associated Press State & Local Wire, "Conservation groups abandon talks on Hells Canyon," 8 May 2001.)

Environmentalists sue to save salmon

A broad coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service Thursday, charging the agency's recovery plan for threatened and endangered salmon in the Snake and Columbia Rivers is scientifically and financially inadequate. The groups are represented by the Earthjustice Legal Defense fund and have asked a federal court in Oregon to review the biological opinion issued by the service late last year. That opinion said methods other than breaching could lead to recovery of the fish. Todd True, lead case attorney, called the plan a house of cards built on optimistic assumptions and voluntary actions. "It's a far cry from the major overhaul of the Columbia River irrigation and hydrosystem that the court called for six years ago," he said. True said the region has several ways to meet energy, transportation and irrigation needs that don't rely on damming the Snake and Columbia rivers. "Columbia and Snake river salmon have only one river," he said. "If it will not support them, they will go extinct and they will do it in our lifetime." The Bonneville Power Administration's ability to abandon fish-friendly, spill-and-flow operations at US Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation dams on both rivers during drought conditions and energy emergencies is a glaring symptom of the plan's inadequacy, the groups charge.

(Barker, Eric, "Environmentalists sue to save salmon: Federal plan called a house of cards built on optimistic assumptions and voluntary actions," The Oregonian, 4 May 2001.)
(Brinckman, Jonathan, "Lawsuit challenges U.S. salmon plan," The Oregonian, 4 May 2001.)


**Orienta Dam, Iron River, WI**
Orienta Dam to be removed this summer

Xcel Energy and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources plan to remove the Orienta Dam from the Iron River this summer and replace it with a fish barrier. Critics say removing the dam will result in a less than natural river by allowing exotic species up a river that has been dammed for nearly 100 years. "It's unimaginable that they would sacrifice this river," nearby resident Mike Gellerman said. "This dam has protected the entire river from exotics." But the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are confident it will prevent upstream migration, Lahti said. Gellerman said taking out the dam will not only let in sea lamprey, ruffe and goby, but also non-native steelhead trout and coho salmon. A DNR report found that trout and salmon numbers on Lake Superior's waters near Wisconsin could increase 29 percent if those fish could spawn on the Iron River. And critics say the non-native fish could harm the river's brook trout - one of the last self-sustaining brook trout populations in the region. The Orienta Dam, finished in 1947, had produced up to 800 kilowatts of electricity until a 1985 storm damaged it. Northern States Power, which is now Xcel Energy, decided the dam wasn't worth repairing.

(The Associated Press State & Local Wire, "Orienta Dam to be removed this summer," 7 May 2001)

Group eyes land for river

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District is finally poised to move ahead with two long-planned habitat-restoration projects on the Missouri River. The NRD is working to acquire land - either through purchase or easement. The Army Corps of Engineers, the NRD's partner in the projects, is designing the restoration areas, which are intended to add back some of the habitat lost to straightening and channelizing the river decades ago. As work on the projects progresses, debate continues about the best way to help heal the Missouri River, which a conservation group recently named the most endangered river in America. At a briefing for the NRD's board, Larry Hesse, a fisheries biologist, said the river needs more of its old flows and other patterns restored. Several species of fish increased in number with high water during the late 1990s but now those numbers have tapered off, Hesse said. River managers need to acquire a corridor where the river can flood over its banks without harming landowners, providing areas for spawning and young fish and washing food into the river.

(Anderson, Julie, "Group Eyes Land for River: The Papio-Missouri River NRD progresses on projects to restore habitat lost to channelization," Omaha World-Herald)

Officials say Tuttle Creek Dam wouldn't stand up to big quake

The US Army Corps of Engineers says Tuttle Creek Dam would not stand up to a high magnitude earthquake and officials have come up with options to deal with the problem. The Corps said the solutions include removing the dam at a cost of $30 million, stabilizing the soil beneath the dam for $100 million, or replacing or enlarging the dam for $250 million. Although Brian McNulty, operations manager for Tuttle Creek Lake, says it's unlikely the area would experience an earthquake large enough to cause significant damage to the dam, it's not impossible. Historically, the area is prime for earthquakes because of its location on the Nemaha Ridge next to the Humboldt fault. If a high magnitude earthquake did hit, the Corps' Bill Empson said, the sand beneath the dam would turn to liquid and the foundation of the structure would become unstable. "The sands will actually become something like quicksand," Empson said. "It'll shake and consolidate." Empson said the dam would spread and crack and begin to leak. He estimated it would take from two to six hours before a significant amount of water from Tuttle Creek Lake would be released.

(Associated Press, "Officials say Tuttle Creek Dam wouldn't stand up to big quake," 15 May 2001.)

**Batavia dam, Fox River, IL**
Batavia leaning toward smaller dam

When it comes to the future of the north Batavia dam, the flow of the Fox River continues to create a long list of questions and some possible answers. Batavia aldermen and park board commissioners met Monday to discuss the dam project in a meeting that turned into a brainstorming session with few definitive answers. Everyone agrees something must be done with the crumbling dam just north of the Batavia Riverwalk, but exactly what is still in the air. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will have the final say of whether to build a new dam or remove it, thereby altering the flow and shape of the river. But state officials have promised to heed the advice of local officials before heading into the final design stage next year. Batavia officials seem to be leaning toward rebuilding the 10- foot dam or a smaller version of it. At the same time, representatives from the Sierra Club and other environmental groups are pushing for a removal of the dam, which would return the river to a more natural state.

(Waldron, Patrick, "Batavia leaning toward smaller dam," Chicago Daily Herald, 15 May 2001)

Board may file suit to force owners to fix unsafe dam

Oklahoma's State Water Resources Board attorney likely will file a lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court, according to spokesman Brian Vance. The goal is "to make the dam at Knight Lake safe, and to prevent potential damage to property and potentially to prevent any loss of life," Vance said. The Board ordered the lake's three owners to renovate the earthen dam at the four-acre lake in April 2001. The Board said the dam has deficiencies that "impermissibly increase the risk" of flooding nearby apartments and homes. Deficiencies include erosion and settling. The state Water Board has no power to levy any penalty for noncompliance of its order. Filing a lawsuit is its only recourse, Vance said. Knight Lake has a storage capacity of about 13.7 million gallons The Board contends that repairs to the dam impounding the lake are long overdue. A "high" hazard potential was reported in 1981 when examiners inspected the dam, and when it was re-inspected in 1990, 1992 and 1994.

(Klinka,Karen, "Board may file suit to force owners to fix unsafe dam," The Daily Oklahoman, 10 May 2001)

Some of state's small dams showing age

Some of Nebraska's small flood control dams are starting to show their age. Nebraska has nearly 880 dams built under the Watershed and Flood Prevention Act, and some of them are nearly 50 years old. A number of those dams have outlived their life span, said Gus Hughbanks of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. How long the dams will be able to continue to fulfill their role is unknown. Nebraska has 45 small dams that will reach their evaluated life expectancy by 2005, according to the conservation service. That number will increase to 172 by 2010. About 190 of the dams are older than 30 years. Across the state there are 294 dams that need some rehabilitation like sediment removed or the emergency spillway enlarged. The service says it needs about $3.6 million in 1999 dollars to bring all Nebraska's watershed structures up to current standards. While Congress authorized money for dam rehabilitation, no funds were appropriated in the last fiscal year. Neither has President Bush included the program in his budget. Beginning this summer, the federal conservation agency will survey some of the oldest dams in Nebraska and explore alternatives, including rebuilding the dams, enlarging them or decommissioning them.

(Associated Press, "Some of state's small dams showing age," 8 May 2001)


**Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam, Oklawaha River, FL**
Bush supports recreation area near dam

Florida Governor Jeb Bush has endorsed a pending proposal to build recreation facilities near the Rodman Reservoir, Senator Jim King said on May 3. The bill calls for creation of the North Florida State Reserve and directs the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a recreational park. King said he discussed the bill with Bush, who wants to drain the reservoir, and the governor agreed it would not make it more difficult to accomplish his goal. "The governor - make no bones about it - is for taking down the dam and I - make no bones about it - am for leaving the dam where it is," King said. The Rodman Dam on the Oklawaha River has been in the middle of a tug-of-war between sport fishermen and environmentalists for a decade. A restoration plan ordered by federal officials calls for tearing down the dam and the series of locks along the nitrate-rich waters. But whether or not it is removed, parties agree it makes sense to improve recreation in the area.

(Associated Press, "King: Bush supports recreation area near dam," 3 May 2001)


The Neponset River to be liberated

Buried for 50 years in culverts that run mostly under the Foxboro Stadium grounds, the Neponset River is being "daylighted" and rechanneled into a 3,000-foot corridor that will make the new $350 million CMGI Field a riverfront stadium. The Neponset, whose headwaters are in woods behind the old stadium, flows 28 miles to Boston Harbor. Exposing the water to air is expected to improve its quality, and the parklike corridor will provide a habitat to wildlife. The Neponset was buried in the late 1940s when Foxboro Raceway, a harness race track, was built. About 1,900 feet of it was buried in the culverts, and 1,100 feet of exposed river snaked through the racetrack infield. "We've already got frogs and turtles, and this restoration could even encourage herring, muskrats, and blue heron," said Jonathan Kraft, the Patriots' (local football team) vice chairman. Kraft said the restoration - along with the planned use of recycled water for plumbing, field maintenance, and cleaning - was part of his wish to build "the most environmentally friendly stadium in the nation."

(Higgins, Richard, "A river emerges: Patriot's stadium project restoring part of Neponset," Boston Globe, 20 April 2001.)

Need for studies stalls decision on dam

The 19th-century dam that controlled the Otter River water that powered the mill where the Kenney Brothers made school furniture is no longer in use. It has aged poorly and fallen into disrepair -- and it could be a danger to young people playing around its abutments and in the dam's culvert, through which Millers River water flows. Members of the Otter River Stream Team, a group of volunteers organized by the state to oversee the river, wants to know if the broken dam, off Maple Street, should be removed. During a recent river cleanup, Karen Pelto, coordinator of the River Restore program for the State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, did an initial survey of the dam and of a stone dam upstream behind the American Tissue Mills complex. She will take her findings to others in the River Restore program, who will evaluate the data from safety, ecological and biological viewpoints to determine whether either dam can be salvaged. Joseph P. Faloretti, operations manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, Lower Connecticut River Basin, said his office is looking into the ownership of the dam. The Corps has separate deeds to the land on both the north and south sides of the river, but is still unclear who owns the dam.

(Barnes, Shirley, "Need for studies stalls decision on dam," Worchester Telegram & Gazette, 18 May 2001.)

Some fear that dam's demise will leave moonscape

The aesthetics of the impoundment between Newport's two dams is the only remaining reason for the lower dam's existence, Town Manager James A. Ricker told the Board of Selectmen last week. The so-called Guilford Dam no longer is used for power and is in a state of disrepair. The Guilford Dam's only purpose is to supply water for fire protection at Guilford of Maine, just downstream. Since the Newport Water District is installing a new water main this summer, Guilford, which manufactures fabric for office furniture, no longer will need the impoundment for fire protection either. All parties, including the state Department of Marine Resources, have agreed to tear down the Guil ford Dam. The agreement between dam owners and the state eventually will restore alewives, American shad and blueback herring to their historic habitat in the upper reaches of the Sebasticook and Kennebec rivers. The Fort Halifax Dam in Winslow will have a fishway or be removed in 2003. But before dams in Benton and Burnham can provide upstream passage, four dams above them must have fishways or be removed.

(Grard, Larry, "Dam's demise to leave moonscape," Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 8 May 2001.)