No. 35, March 20, 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










Juru Dam, Sungai Juru (Juru River), Malaysia
Demolition of Juru Dam to resolve flash flood problem

The problem of flash floods faced by some 120,000 people living in housing estates and traditional kampungs (villages) here will be resolved to some extent when the Juru Dam on Sungai Juru near Bukit Minywak is demolished. The dam, with two culverts each six meters wide, could be removed, which would widen the river to 60 meters facilitating water flow. The dam, built in 1950, was to irrigate the agricultural land in the upper reaches of the river and restrict the flow of seawater during high tide. However the dam has now been identified as among the causes for flash floods in the agricultural land, which has been converted into housing estates as a result of rapid development. Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon said the project was financed from the Seberang Perai Municipal Council Drainage collection fee from housing developers in Seberang Perai. Penang State Executive Councillor for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said the project would help reduce flash floods at Taman Sungai Rambai, Taman Kota Permai, Alma, Permatang Rawa and kampungs around Juru.

(Koh-Dam, 'Demolition of Juru dam to resolve flash flood problem,' Bernama (Malaysian National News Agency), 22 February 2002. Full text available at:


Will the flood wash away the Crees' birthright?

As reported in last month's Bulletin, the Rupert River in Quebec is to be flooded by a series of dams and dikes as part of a huge hydroelectric development project. Many of the traditional Cree trap lines will be lost, and the fishing for walleyed pike and speckled trout will never be quite the same. Resigned to the project, the Crees signed an agreement with the Quebec provincial government this month that will open their vast territory - a third of the province - to expanded logging, mining and hydroelectric installations. The Crees also agreed to drop $3.6 billion in environmental lawsuits, receiving in return promises of $3.5 billion in financing over 50 years, and thousands of jobs for their chronically underemployed youth. This is the first agreement in Canada's history that recognizes the full autonomy of any Indian people as a 'native nation,' giving Quebec's Crees substantial powers to help manage mining, forestry and energy development. Cree chiefs negotiated in secret with the Quebec premier, Bernard Landry, to bury a long, bitter conflict over land rights. When agreement was announced last October, it shocked Quebec's nine Cree communities.

(Krauss, Clifford, 'Will the Flood Wash Away the Crees' Birthright?' 27 February 2002. Found on-line at:

us - general

Congressmen introduce hydro reform legislation

Two congressmen working with environmental groups introduced a bill that would significantly change the hydroelectric industry by reforming the dam licensing process, charging utilities fees for use of public lands and instituting decommissioning requirements similar to those already used for nuclear power plants. Industry groups say that the bill places excessive demands on dam owners and will stymie further growth in the industry. One of the primary purposes of the Federal Investment in Sustainable Hydropower Act would be to reform the delay-ridden relicensing process. The process typically takes five years, and dams are then certified for 30 to 50 years. If the certification process takes longer, however, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues temporary, one-year licenses until the application is finished. These annual licenses may serve as a disincentive to completing the process. Under the FISH Act, dam owners installing fish-friendly turbines would be given priority consideration in the relicensing process as well as fee discounts. License duration would also be reduced to between 15 and 30 years, and interim conditions would be placed on annual licenses. 'Dropping the relicense term to 15 years brings this process more in line with other environmental permits and licenses,' said Charles Gauvin, president of Trout Unlimited The bill would also create a decommissioning fund for dams that are no longer in operation and need to be removed. On March 13, the bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality.

Read the Federal Investment in Sustainable Hydropower Act at:

(Stempeck, Brian, 'Hydropower: Dingell, Markey introduce hydro reform legislation,' Greenwire, 8 February 2002.)

us - california

Proposed Lang Ranch dam, Lang Creek, CA
Over protests, trees downed to make way for controversial Lang Ranch dam

As crews cut down 40 oak trees to make way for the controversial Lang Ranch dam, members of the Ventura County grand jury toured the site. Last month, a judge granted Save Lang Oaks Fund a temporary restraining order but then denied the group's request for an injunction to halt the work. Nonetheless, Save Lang Oaks staged a protest rally attended by about 40 people, group president Gerry Langer said. 'They went in on overtime expressly to cut the trees down and basically demoralize us, and it's not going to work,' Langer said. 'We want to stop the project.' County Flood Control is building the $5 million dam for Thousand Oaks under an agreement with the developer of Lang Ranch to protect downstream properties from the housing development's runoff. Alyse Lazar, the attorney for Save Lang Oaks, said the group plans to proceed with its lawsuit seeking more environmental studies of the area. 'They didn't destroy the entire habitat,' Lazar said. 'There's over 100 oak trees still standing, and they haven't started construction on the dam and won't be until at least April.' Lazar also said the group may seek a court order to halt construction of the dam itself.

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

(Chan, Cecilia, 'Over protests, trees downed to make way for dam,' The Daily News of Los Angeles, 12 February 2002.)

Matilija Dam, Matilija Creek (Ventura River), CA
Matilija Dam money still in Bush budget

While President Bush is again asking to slash the Army Corps of Engineers' budget, local projects - including the study of the Matilija Dam - are still on the list to get money in 2003. Bush's $2.1 trillion budget for 2003 outlines nearly $4.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, which studies, constructs and, in some cases, removes civil works projects from waterways to dams. The corps is operating with more than $4.5 billion in 2002. In trimming the $220 million, Bush wants to slice several Mississippi River projects and is not asking for any money for several other Midwestern water projects. No new water projects are included in the budget - only ongoing ones. Ventura County, however, has several projects in the works that the president said Congress should continue to fund. Under the 2003 proposal, the Army Corps of Engineers would receive another $100,000 in its continuing study of how to remove the Matilija Dam from the Ventura River. Engineers have found that the dam has backed up millions of tons of sand and silt, making it virtually useless. Congress set aside $535,000 for the 2002 leg of the study.

For more information about the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project, visit

(Alessi, Ryan, 'Matilija Dam money still in Bush budget,' Ventura County Star, 7 February 2002.)

Big plan to restore steelhead on Alameda Creek

Stream barriers that broke the Bay Area's once-thriving steelhead population may crumble in one major urban habitat, and experts believe that the ocean-venturing salmon cousin could return in the thousands. The habitat is Alameda Creek and its tributaries, a 670-square-mile watershed. Advocates say the system can again support steelhead in numbers while providing drinking water and flood protection. Ocean-traveling steelhead are long gone from the headwaters, but genetically identical rainbow trout thrive behind Calaveras Dam. The plan calls for building a detour for fish around dams that block their way, then seeding the stream with long-trapped rainbow, which biologists predict that the rainbow will breed with fish migrating up from the ocean. Both the landlocked and saltwater fish appear to be from the same steelhead subgroup ancestral to the Central California coast. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to create an $8 million fish highway through six stream obstacles or hazards, including two fish staircases and four screens to prevent fish from being swept into drinking-water collection ponds. In addition, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission proposes removing two old dams, one built on top of a mill dam that operated before the Gold Rush.

(DelVecchio, Rick, 'Steelhead restoration; Big plan to restore steelhead,' The San Francisco Chronicle, 26 February 2002.)

us - northwest

Condit Dam, White Salmon River, OR
Forest Service's objectivity questioned on Condit Dam removal

The hot potato issue of whether and how Condit Dam should be removed landed in the lap of a reluctant Columbia River Gorge Commission, but it was the U.S. Forest Service that ended up in the hot seat. A parade of speakers from the White Salmon area, and several gorge commission members, expressed doubt that the Forest Service can objectively review a proposal by Portland-based PacifiCorp to remove its 89-year-old dam on the White Salmon River in 2006 by tunneling and blasting a hole through the dam's base. Their concern is that the Forest Service, along with other state and federal agencies, signed a 1999 settlement brokered by PacifiCorp endorsing the project, even though no detailed environmental analysis had been done at that time. Now the Forest Service must review the project over 45 days to determine whether it is consistent with the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act and protection of a federally designated scenic stretch of the White Salmon River above the dam. In the end, the commission voted to write FERC, urging them not to issue a final decision on dam removal until the Forest Service and other agencies have completed studies of the impacts the plan would have on the national scenic area.

(Durbin, Kathie, 'Forest Service's objectivity questioned,' The Columbian, 13 February 2002.)

Kellogg Lake dam, Kellogg Creek, OR
Milwaukie asks for federal study on Kellogg Lake dam removal

Milwaukie officials are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the possibility of removing Kellogg Lake dam and restoring the Kellogg Creek stream channel and fish habitat. JoAnn Herrigel, Milwaukie's program services coordinator, said the corps offered to conduct the study free upon the formal written request of City Manager Mike Swanson, which she received. The idea of removing the dam and draining the 12-acre lake surfaced three years ago. County, federal and state agencies were looking for a way to compensate for potential adverse effects that the a new freeway interchange might have on Mount Scott Creek and its fish habitat. In March 1999, new federal environmental regulations extended protection to salmon and steelhead trout in all primary rivers in the Northwest, including the Clackamas River. Mount Scott Creek, which lies within 300 feet of the Sunnybrook interchange, is part of the protected Clackamas River watershed. The corps' 15-month study will determine whether tearing down the dam that created Kellogg Lake nearly 70 years ago would help restore coho salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout populations in Kellogg Creek.

(The Oregonian, 'Milwaukie asks federal study on Kellogg Lake dam removal,' 7 February 2002.)

Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Granite, and Lower Monumental dams, Lower Snake River, WA
Army Corps won't breach Snake dams

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that its four Snake River dams will be modified to improve salmon survival, but will not be breached. The decision was expected, as the agency had essentially made that call in December when it released its draft plan for restoring endangered fish runs in the Columbia and Snake river systems. The technical and operational changes, when formally adopted, will cost about $390 million over ten years. The affected dams Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Granite, and Lower Monumental provide electricity marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration, as well as irrigation water and Snake River navigation. The dams disrupt the migration of juvenile salmon and steelhead to the ocean, exposing the fish to predators, high water temperatures, and hydroelectric turbines. As a result, many runs have been placed on the endangered species list, which triggered studies on the best way to restore their runs. '[The decision] is disappointing but not surprising,' said Melissa Pease, of the Save Our Wild Salmon coalition. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent over the past two decades to modify the dams to help salmon, she said, but 'engineering and technology are not going to save these fish. They need more natural river conditions, and they need dam removal to achieve that.'

For more information on the campaign to breach the four Lower Snake River dams, visit

(The Electricity Daily, 'Army Corps Won't Breach Snake Dams,' 26 February 2002.)

Hadley's controversial reappointment to Idaho's Fish and Game Commission

Nancy Hadley, the only woman to serve on Idaho's Fish and Game Commission, won confirmation to a second term after a month of controversy over her stands on key policy issues. The Senate voted in favor of the businesswoman, who had widespread support from sportsmen, businessmen and political leaders in the Panhandle. Opponents criticized Hadley for her role in the firing of former Fish and Game Director Steve Mealey, and her support for his successor, Rod Sando, who was forced out of office last month. They blasted Sando for indicating support for breaching the lower Snake River dams to improve salmon runs. Early in her first term, Hadley had also tentatively backed a Fish and Game Department report on salmon restoration that labeled the dams the cause of salmon demise. Later, the commission said more normal river flows would improve runs but stopped short of supporting dam removal.

(Associated Press, 'Senate confirms reappointment of only woman Fish and Game Commissioner,' 26 February 2002.)

us - southwest

Proposed Bear River dams, Bear River, UT
Bill would remove Elwood and the Barrens as possible dam sites

Legislation to remove Elwood and the Barrens from consideration as possible sites for proposed Bear River dams is making its way through the Legislature. The bill was endorsed unanimously by committees in the House and the Senate, and passed unanimously by the full Senate. Farmers, residents, environmental activists, Shoshone cultural leaders and city leaders have opposed the Elwood dam. The bill would leave other possible dam sites along the river, and add a diversion and off-stream storage site. Utah Rivers Council Director Zach Frankel contends that other methods - conservation, efficiency and use of water from the Central Utah Project - are cheaper, cleaner and less destructive than dams along the Bear River.

For more information, visit the Utah Rivers Council at:

(Associated Press, 'Bill would remove Elwood and the Barrens from possible dam sites,' 14 February 2002.)

us - midwest

Dams degrade water quality on Cuyahoga River

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says the water quality in the Cuyahoga River has to improve The EPA would like to see a more natural, free-flowing waterway. That would involve the towns of Kent and Munroe Falls altering their dams so that the Cuyahoga can run more freely. The river was dammed in the early 1800s to give Munroe Falls the power to run its several mills. The mills are now gone, but the dam continues to slow the river to a snail's pace north of the city. During summer months, algae and other plant life multiply, stealing life-giving oxygen from the water and creating a stagnant lake. Not only are the fish and insects that normally live in the river suffocating, but pollutants are more concentrated. Owner Sonoco Products, which is in the process of turning its dam over to Munroe Falls, has said it would take at least $500,000 to shore up deteriorating abutments. While there are other options - installing sluice gates in the dams, rerouting the river around the dams, installing pumps and aeration equipment - none is as simple or affordable as lowering the dams.

(Akron Beacon Journal editorial, 'Still Munroe Falls; EPA doesn't want to remove the city dam. It wants the dam lowered to aid the Cuyahoga River,' 4 February 2002.)

Minnesota's water, and all who depend on it, are in trouble

Polluted in agricultural regions by farmland runoff, laden in the metro area with phosphorus and other nutrients, threatened in the far north by development, for too long, Minnesotans have taken water for granted. Now, for the first time, a consortium of 75 environmental and conservation groups, including organizations as diverse as Ducks Unlimited and Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, have come together to support an $80 million package of land and water stewardship proposals. The proposals are intended to make Minnesota more livable by cleaning up its lakes and rivers. Organized under the auspices of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the 75 groups claim a combined membership of about 500,000 state residents. All of these waters once supported healthy populations of walleyes, northern pike and smallmouth bass. Some no longer do. Some Minnesota waters aren't even safe for swimming. MEP's goals are broad ranging: go phosphorus-free, protect shorelines, restore streams, remove obsolete dams, enhance fisheries habitat, improve feedlot management, research new swine systems, build metro greenways, protect native prairies, acquire state park lands, fund RIM Reserve, and create open spaces.

(Anderson, Dennis, 'Clean water isn't free; Environmental and conservation groups have come together to support an $80 million package intended to make Minnesota more livable by cleaning up its lakes and rivers,' Star Tribune, 3 February 2002.)

(Lien, Dennis, 'Coalition proposes broad range of water projects; spending totals nearly $80 million for cleaning up state lakes, rivers,' Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 2 February 2002.)

us - northeast

Former Main Street dam, Sebasticook River, ME

Newport plans for land reclaimed by removal of Main Street dam

A $10,000 planning grant has been approved to research uses and direction for 10 acres of property bordering the Sebasticook River. The land, reclaimed as part of a downtown dam removal and channel redirection program by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, could provide the community with a unique opportunity to create walking paths, parks and gathering places. Although the land now contains buried vehicles, shopping carts and bicycles, it also is the habitat for eagles and blue herons. The nearby water harbors brown trout and bass. Once a major outlet of Sebasticook Lake, the channel has become usable land surrounding a small stream with the planned removal of the Main Street dam. Town Manager James Ricker said the redesigned area 'could become our bread and butter.' Some of the suggestions for the land include: establishing a historical site at the location of an 1810 sawmill; creating a river walk, part of the state's Healthy Communities' Coalition 'Walkable Communities' program; building a park with a focus on family picnics and a children's 'fishing hole'; and establishing a community vegetable garden, surrounded by flowerbeds and trees.

(Mack, Sharon Kiley, 'Selectmen approve grant application; Newport seeks $10,000 to study potential uses for land on Sebasticook River,' Bangor Daily News, 28 February 2002.)