No. 34, February 15, 2002

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak

table of contents










Danube River plans would cause harm

Ecological disaster looms if governments along the Danube River go ahead with plans to develop shipping routes, an environmental group said in a report released in late January. The Danube is Europe's second longest river after the Volga, is navigable from Ulm, Germany, to the Black Sea, a distance of 1,608 miles. Its river basin is home to 80 million people in 17 countries, and 20 million people depend on the river for drinking water. The plans, which include construction of new canals, dams and the deepening of parts of the river, threaten vital wetland ecosystems, the WWF said. The WWF argues that improving ships, navigation and logistics systems would make many of the planned changes unnecessary. A planned canal that would link the Danube with the Oder and Elbe rivers would alter or destroy 990,000 acres of protected river sites in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria.

Download the full report here:
For more information on threats to the Danube and other European rivers, visit ERN at

(Associated Press, "Group: River Plans Would Cause Harm," 30 January 2002. Full article on the web at


Cree deal with Hydro Quebec

Quebec's Cree Nation reached an agreement with Hydro Quebec to put more large dams on major rivers inside Cree territory. Under the deal, the James Bay Cree would receive $16 million this year, $30.7 million in 2003 and then $46.5 million a year for 48 years. In return, the Cree would drop environmental lawsuits against the government totaling $2.4 billion, and allow construction of new hydroelectric plants on the Eastman and Rupert rivers, subject to court and environmental approval. A Grand Council spokesman claims that voter approval ranged from 50 to 83 percent among the nine communities involved. Those voting against the deal opposed further hydroelectric projects. Opposition to the project claims that the Agreement In Principle between Hydro Quebec and the Grand Council was negotiated in secret, and a referendum was pushed through without adequate information to or discussion by the affected communities. At the signing of the agreement, protesting members of the Cree nation were thrown in jail. The Cree have until now been a remarkably united group on the particular subject of the Hydro Quebec dams, their previous efforts against Hydro Quebec were among the greatest environmental victories of the previous decade. The official policies now emanating from the Grand Council appear to be a 180 degree turn around from ten years ago, an almost jaw dropping reversal, mostly by the same individuals involved in the resistance of previous years.

(Associated Press, "Quebec Indians Endorse Power Deal," 4 February 2002.)

us - california

Matilija Dam, Matilija Creek (Ventura River), CA
Matilija Dam blamed for eroding beaches

Residents of Ventura County were given opportunity to comment on a feasibility study which includes the possibility of dismantling Matilija Dam, which is blamed for eroding Ventura County beaches and blocking the endangered steelhead trout from its spawning habitat. The 55-year-old dam built and owned by Ventura County Flood Control, is located 15 miles from the ocean, no longer serves its original intent of providing water and flood control because of a 6-million-cubic-yard buildup of sediment, officials said. One million cubic yards is the equivalent of about 40 football fields stacked 15 feet deep. "We need to get that dam out of there," said Paul Jenkin, coordinator of the Matilija Coalition. "We really are endorsing whatever turns out to be the cheapest and most expedient way of doing it with the least impact to the environment and, obviously, that is what the study is to determine." Jenkin said that steelhead used to number in the thousands in the Ventura River but today is only in the dozens.

For more information visit the Matilija Coalition at:

(Chan, Cecilia, "Meeting to Address Dam Linked to Ventura County, Calif. Beach Erosion," Los Angeles Daily News, 31 January 2002. Text available on the web at

Proposed Lang Ranch dam, Lang Creek, CA
Judge blocks tree removal at Lang Ranch dam site

A Ventura County Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the uprooting of oak trees at a flood control construction site. The restraining order prevents the Ventura County Flood Control District from removing up to 40 trees at the site until the court hears a group's petition for an injunction to stop the project. "Right now, I think it's appropriate to put everything on hold," Judge Thomas J. Hutchins said in court. Save the Lang Oaks Fund, the nonprofit group seeking the injunction, wants the county to commission new environmental studies to address concerns about the safety of the project site, which is near an age-old landslide in the Lang Ranch area. Critics of the project say construction of the dam will further degrade the stability of the area. The group alleges that the county has failed to comply with state environmental quality regulations by making changes to the project without holding public hearings. "We need the information that the county has systematically withheld from us," said Gerry Langer, director of Save the Lang Oaks. Flood control officials deny any wrongdoing.

For more information, visit the Thousand Oaks Citizens Action Network at:

(Smith, Jessica, "Judge blocks tree removal at dam site: Order might mean year's delay on flood control project, says county Public Works official," Ventura County Star, 26 January 2002.)

$4.6 billion proposed to fix Hetch Hetchy

San Francisco utility officials are proposing a $4.6 billion bond measure to upgrade the aging, seismically vulnerable Hetch Hetchy water system that serves much of the Bay Area. Under the proposal, city voters would be asked to approve San Francisco's biggest bond issue in history -- with the tab to be paid through a series of increases of water rates charged to 2.4 million Hetch Hetchy customers in San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The Hetch Hetchy system was built after the 1913 passage of the Raker Act, in which Congress granted San Francisco rights of way to dam the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park for construction of water-collection and power- generation facilities stretching 167 miles from the Sierra Nevada to the Bay Area. The subsequent filling of the Hetch Hetchy Valley is regarded by many environmentalists as one of worst crimes ever perpetrated against nature. Sixty-eight years after Hetch Hetchy water first began to flow into San Francisco, the system's infrastructure is in serious disrepair and susceptible to failure in an earthquake, according to the city agency that manages it, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

For information on efforts to restore Hetch Hetchy valley, visit

(Finnie, Chuck and Sward, Susan, "$4.6 billion needed to fix Hetch Hetchy: Huge bond measure proposed, with rate hikes for all users," San Francisco Chronicle, 31 January 2002. Found on-line at"file=/chronicle/archive/2002/01/31/MN220285.DTL)

us - northwest

Bush funding only half what is needed to save NW salmon

Salmon recovery in the Columbia-Snake river basin of the U.S. Pacific Northwest will cost more than twice the amount the Bush administration has proposed, according to budget estimates by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the agency that wrote the federal salmon recovery plan. These internal documents were obtained by conservation groups through a lawsuit aimed at strengthening the salmon plan. Conservation groups are challenging President Bush to fulfill his campaign pledge to 'save the salmon" (Washington Post, July 20, 2000) by substantially increasing Columbia-Snake salmon recovery funding over the highly insufficient funding package the administration presented to Congress last year. The salmon plan's success is tied to a number of performance standards against which it will be measured at key check points in 2003, 2005 and 2008. Failing grades at any of those points could force a resurfacing of the option to remove four federal dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington to facilitate salmon recovery. Adequate funding for recovery measures in the plan is one of those standards.

For more information, contact Sean Crowley of Save Our Wild Salmon, 202-478-6128; Michael Garrity of American Rivers, 202-347-7550, ext. 3031; Jeff Curtis of Trout Unlimited, 503-827-5700, ext. 11 or (cell) 503-351-2492; Bill Arthur of Sierra Club, 206-378-0114, ext. 307.

To learn more about efforts to recover the Columbia-Snake basin visit:

(U.S. Newswire, "Conservation Groups Say Newly Uncovered Documents Show Funding To Save NW Salmon Is Only Half Of What Is Needed," 31 January 2002.)

Proposed giant dam would "borrow" water from the Columbia River

For the first time since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president there is a proposal to build new water storage in the arid, irrigated orchard of the Yakima River Basin. In its grandest form, the off-stream dam would be one of the largest of its kind in the world -- 595 feet high with a capacity to store 1.7 million acre-feet of water. Proposed for the Black Rock Valley, wedged between the Hanford nuclear reservation, the Yakima Training Center and the Yakama Nation reservation, the reservoir would draw water from the Columbia River and return it to a tributary, the Yakima River. But the price tag is staggering -- as much as $1.6 billion. To find the money to do it, the project would have to be supported by just about everybody: several federal agencies, Congress, the state, tribes, environmentalists and farmers. Local counties and Governor Locke are pitching in hundreds of thousands of dollars for feasibility studies. As envisioned now, Black Rock reservoir would hold water sucked out of the Columbia, and then piped into an irrigation system in the lower Yakima Valley.

(U.S. Water News Online, "Giant dam would "borrow" water from the Columbia River," February 2002.)

Savage Rapids Dam, Rogue River, OR
State approves grant to remove Savage Rapids Dam

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board approved a $3 million grant over two years to help pay for a project to remove Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River and replace it with pumps. The grant comes from Oregon lottery revenue and other sources, including salmon license plate revenue, federal salmon funds and revenue from the purchase of 'salmon friendly" power. The dam, built in 1921, has been at the center of a long conflict over the health of the Rogue River. Biologists have identified the dam as a chief obstacle to upstream migration of adult salmon and steelhead, and as a killer of young salmon and steelhead migrating downstream. The National Marine Fisheries Service sued the Grants Pass Irrigation District in 1998 for failing to meet federal Endangered Species Act requirements for threatened coho. The water enhancement board's decision advances an agreement on dam removal between conservation groups, the Grants Pass Irrigation District and the state. Patrons of the irrigation district voted by a 2-1 ratio in January 2000 to support the idea of removing the dam.

(Oregonian, 'state approves grant to remove dam," 14 January 2002.)

Condit Dam, White Salmon River, OR
Blasting Condit Dam wins early backing

A Portland utility's plan to remove Condit Dam on the White Salmon River got a qualified thumbs-up from the nation's dam-licensing agency. The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declined to recommend removal of the 89-year-old dam, but FERC said in a draft environmental impact statement that if the dam is breached, PacifiCorp's plan to blast a hole in its base would, with a few modifications, pass environmental muster. At 125 feet, Condit Dam would be the largest dam ever removed in the United States. PacifiCorp's plan "would provide the best and most cost-effective means" for removing the dam and the sediments behind it while protecting the environment, the draft EIS says. It notes that the plan enjoys "unilateral support by all relevant federal and state fish and wildlife agencies and tribes." The utility's proposal to breach Condit Dam in October 2006 at a cost of $17.15 million rather than fit it with costly fish ladders at a cost of more than $30 million is being tracked closely by the hydroelectric industry and advocates for free-flowing rivers.

Read about the campaign to restore the White Salmon River at:

(Durbin, Kathie, "Blasting Condit dam wins early backing," Columbian, 31 January 2002.)

Mount Scott Creek dam, Mount Scott Creek, OR
Plans to breach dam need money

This summer Clackamas County hopes to breach a dam on Mount Scott Creek and improve fish habitat on a mile of the stream if the money is available. People might benefit, too. If a homeowners" group will grant an easement Happy Valley wants to build a trail and put a bridge over the creek to provide public access to the site. The dam is an insurmountable hurdle for cutthroat trout and other fish. Although salmon and steelhead are not found in the upper portion of Mount Scott Creek, removing barriers could clear the way for their return. "It's one of the more serious obstacles between the headwaters of the creek and . . . Kellogg Lake," said Steve Berliner, Friends of Kellogg and Mt. Scott Creek Watersheds. The $425,000 project calls for removing the dam and the sediment built up behind it, then re-creating the creekbed and restoring its natural grade, said John Cramer, a county engineer working on the project. Spawning gravel would be added, and trees and native plants would be placed along the banks. The earthen dam was built in 1968 to create a fish pond and provide irrigation water on an adjoining farm, according to a consultant's report.

Steve Berliner of Friends of Kellogg and Mt. Scott Creek Watersheds can be reached at 503.653.8509.

(Mayes, Steve, "Plans to breach dam need money," Oregonian, 21 January 2002.)

Milltown Dam, Clark Fork River, MT
Arco buys off Montana Power on Milltown Dam cleanup

Montana Power Co. and Atlantic Richfield Co. (Arco) have promised to work together to keep in place the Milltown Dam and the pollution behind it, according to a previously secret agreement released last week. The Milltown Reservoir and Dam is the terminus of the country's largest Superfund site, where a century's worth of arsenic, copper, lead and other materials rest. The EPA is expected to propose a cleanup plan for Milltown Reservoir, which is polluted with mine wastes from Butte and Anaconda that have washed downstream over the last 100 years. The EPA is considering upgrading the dam to manage the pollution or removing the dam and the pollution. The agreement between companies limits Montana Power's future costs to $10 million, and calls for the dam to be transferred to a third party or limited-liability corporation with a $12 million trust fund for the dam's operation and maintenance. "A couple of years ago, Montana Power was talking openly about taking out this dam and decommissioning," said Clark Fork Coalition attorney Matt Clifford. "Then they stopped. This explains why. Arco bought them off."

(Greenwire, 'superfund: Montana Power, Arco release agreement on Milltown dam cleanup," 29 January 2002.)

Restoration efforts focus on the mouth of Ship Creek

Ship Creek may not be transformed into a free-flowing urban stream anytime soon, but people are chipping away at obstructions that prevent fish from spawning upstream. The leading group behind the effort is the Anchorage Waterways Council, working mainly with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Removing the lower three of the creek's four dams to create 12 miles of undammed river for wild fish runs. Almost no salmon get past the second dam now. Biologists predict that if the dams are dismantled, fish will once again spawn upstream, and Ship Creek could support tens of thousands more fish. In the short term the council has focused its efforts near the stream's mouth. Along the lower reaches of Ship Creek, popular with anglers, the group is working to take out three failing culverts. It hopes to yhen breach the lowest dam. Holly Kent, the council's executive director, hopes both obstructions to fish passage will be gone within four years.

Visit the Anchorage Waterways Council at

(Manning, Elizabeth, "Restoring the flow; Efforts focus on the mouth of Ship Creek," Anchorage Daily News, 14 January 2002.)

us - southwest

One step closer to taking down Fossil Creek dams

After the historic agreement between Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and a contingent of environmental groups to remove two hydroelectric plants on Fossil Creek was reached in November 2000, the Federal Energy Commission (FERC) slammed on the brakes. Intervening environmental groups, including Living Rivers, asked that FERC issue an order which would allow us to proceed with the terms of the settlement agreement, including decommissioning of both plants and return of full flows to Fossil Creek by 2004. The agreement also included removal of most plant facilities and restoration the damaged areas by 2009, by APS at APS's cost. FERC issued a Declaratory Order in December 2001 that supported the decommissioning agreement with APS. In response to APS concerns about competition for operating the plants, FERC stated, "We conclude that there is no compelling reason for allowing another round of relicensing competition. We do not believe it would be in the public interest to initiate a new relicensing procedure when the existing licensee has attempted to resolve matters by seeking a settlement, even if that settlement might lead to surrender of the license and removal of project works, including any associated dams."

Read the FERC Declaratory Order at:

Fossil Creek background information on the web:

For more information contact Lisa Force, Arizona Program Director for Living Rivers at <, or by phone at 480.990.7839.

us - midwest

Glen Palmer Dam, Fox River, IL
The fate of Glen Palmer Dam

Initial talks have commenced between the US state of Illinois and Yorkville officials to agree on a process to decide on the fate of the Glen Palmer Dam. The first phase of the study will determine a set of alternatives for the dam, including redesign and/or removal, much like the study of the north Batavia Dam that started in 2000. Among other options might be removing half the dam, replacing the dam with a multi-step structure, and cutting out segments of the dam. The Yorkville City Council in 1998 asked the Department of Natural Resources to find ways to make the dam safe, and State officials have considered removing the dam for safety and environmental reasons.

(Water Power & Dam Construction, "Dam talks started," 30 January 2002.)

us - northeast

Bush supports military role in dam removal

The Maine Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP) was recognized for their efforts to remove Maine's East Machias Dam and to restore critical aquatic habitat. President George W. Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Nelson Gibbs and Coastal America Director Virginia Tippie honored the East Machias Dam Removal Team with Coastal America's 2001 Partnership Award. In a letter to team members, President Bush said, "What made your project particularly innovative is that the Air Force Reserves removed the dam as part of a training exercise and, through the Maine Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, employed the resources of corporate America to assist in the project's completion. My administration strongly supports efforts like this that bring together a variety of resources to meet common goals and address challenging environmental and economic needs." The abandoned dam was removed by the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command under the direction of the Maine Natural Resources Conservation Service. "Removing the abandoned dam in East Machias restored over 300 miles of Atlantic Salmon and fisheries migration corridor while adding numerous wetlands and enhancing river ecologies," said Maine CWRP Advisory Board Chair Patrick J. Hester.

For more information on the Maine CWRP, contact Marylee Hanley at 617.560.1573.

(PR Newswire: "Bush Recognizes Maine Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership Efforts in East Machias Dam Removal," 29 January 2002. Found on the web at

(Clancy, Mary Anne, "East Machias dam project to receive award; Abandoned structure interfered with Atlantic salmon spawning," Bangor Daily News, 19 January 2002.)

West Winterport Dam, Marsh Stream, ME
Residents vote to take West Winterport Dam

By a vote of 56-40, residents of Winterport Maine authorized the Board of Selectmen to take West Winterport Dam and any nearby land the town might need by eminent domain. The cost of taking the dam and the engineering study will be shared with the nearby town of Frankfort, which also approved a $5,000 appropriation. The dam on the Marsh Stream forms a border between the two towns and residents are considering eminent domain as a way to prevent Facilitators Improving Salmonid Habitat, known as FISH, from removing the dam. FISH wants to eliminate the dam to open the stream to spawning Atlantic salmon and other anadromous species. Although earlier Winterport meetings seemed to indicate overwhelming support for keeping the dam, the results of the most recent meeting revealed that many in town have concerns about resorting to eminent domain and the long-term financial implications of owning the dam. FISH estimated that it could cost the town a minimum of $275,000 to take and maintain the dam. FISH president Bill Townsend said his group was committed to removing the dam and would not give up its dream without a fight.

(Griffin, Walter, "Residents vote to take West Winterport Dam; Selectmen authorized to invoke eminent domain," Bangor Daily News, 28 January 2002.)

(Griffin, Walter, "DEP OKs Winterport dam removal," Bangor Daily News, 21 January 2002.)

us - southeast

Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam, Ocklawaha River, FL
Forest Service proceeding with Ocklawaha River restoration

The U.S. Forest Service issued Florida an ultimatum to either breach a dam to restore the Ocklawaha River by 2006, or pay millions for federal demolition of the dam. The Forest Service's ultimatum is a reiteration of a perennial (and just) demand that for years has been thwarted by powerful North Florida senators, who defend the reservoir's use for fishing and recreation. The 9,000-acre reservoir behind Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam was dug in 1968 to supply water for locks serving the proposed Cross Florida Barge Canal. After statewide protests exposed that project as folly, President Nixon halted the barge canal program in 1971. Congress decommissioned it in 1991. In 1993, the Legislature approved a restoration plan. More recently, however, the Legislature has been as big an impediment as the dam to restoring the Ocklawaha. Using every trick they know, North Florida legislators have defied two governors -- Jeb Bush and Lawton Chiles -- who have supported breaching the dam to drain the reservoir. Only Bush's veto prevented enactment of the Legislature's latest defense maneuver: a bill that would have appropriated $1.6 million to make the reservoir a state park, build a fish hatchery at the dam, and install a boat ramp.

For more information on the fight to restore the Ocklawaha River, visit Florida Defenders of the Environment at:

(Sarasota Herald-Tribune, "Federal ultimatum may break legislative logjam on the Ocklawaha," 19 January 2002.)