No. 23, January 29, 2001

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River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors :Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak









Participate in the Day of Action on March 14, 2001!

We urge you to join us on March 14th as part of the International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, Water & Life. Over the last year, the anti-dam movement has gained huge momentum -- from the release of the highly critical World Commission on Dams report to unprecedented networking in Latin America, Asia and Africa to promising dam removal efforts in Asia, Europe and North America. Let's keep this momentum growing. Plan an event on March 14 as part of the Day of Action!

For more information visit

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, or to let us know what you are planning, e-mail the Day of Action coordinators at', or call 510.848.1155.


Norway's Prime Minister says no new hydro

Norway's state-owned utility Statkraft got a surprise as Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in his New Year's Eve address said there would be no more large-scale hydropower developments in Norway. The government decision means that Statkraft's controversial construction of three hydropower stations in Saltfjellet, northern Norway, had to be put to rest. The three developments caused the government much political headache last autumn, and Statkraft was ordered to halt works in September, just after construction began, due to strong opposition among environmentalists and opposition parties.

(Brynhildsbakken, Erik, "Statkraft frustrated as Norway PM says no more hydro," Reuters, 3 January 2001.)


Dam removal toolkit available

A first-in-the-nation 'dam removal toolkit' was released in November to give people more information and guidance about how to restore free and healthy flowing rivers through selective dam removal, the River Alliance of Wisconsin and Trout Unlimited announced today. The toolkit includes a 120-page guide and companion video (produced in cooperation with other river groups). "While some people may hope to receive a backhoe and jack-hammer, this toolkit comes in the form of a handbook and video," stated Todd Ambs, executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin. "Like any good toolkit, this guide helps people learn how to fix or restore something. In this case, it is a free flowing, healthy river in their community." In the coming years, hundreds of communities across Wisconsin, and thousands across the United States, will be faced with the decision of whether to repair or remove an old dam. Conservation groups and ecologists consider dam removal to be one of the most significant river restoration opportunities in the 21st century. An increasing number of citizens, citizen groups, local officials and dam owners are interested in the option of dam removal.

For more information, or to order the Citizen's Guide and/or video, please contact the River Alliance of Wisconsin at, visit, or call 608.257.2424.

Dam busting gains favor

It was not too long ago that the call to dismantle thousands of dams in the United States, and thereby return rivers to their natural ways, was considered radical, unrealistic or downright un-American. Yet today the dam-removal movement has entered the mainstream of public opinion, gaining enough support that policymakers seriously are considering pulling down hundreds of dams. States such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are already far along in dam-removal efforts. In the past eight years, more than 200 dams have been dismantled, and the pace appears to be accelerating since the deconstruction of the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine last year and the return of millions of alewife to their ancestral waters. But in the past few years many Americans and their elected officials, including some governors, no longer see dams as permanent fixtures on the landscape, "like the pyramids," but as chunks of concrete, which in many cases no longer serve much purpose and do a lot of harm by altering naturally flowing rivers and the fish and other species that depend on them.

(Booth, William, "Dam-Busting Gains Favor: But Removal to Aid Environment Can Backfire," Washington Post, 11 December 2000. Text at:


**CA deregulation debacle**
State considers regulating Electric Power Industry

California politicians have agreed to examine possible conversion of California's electricity industry to a public power system. Unless a permanent remedy is found quickly, Burton said, voters would embrace in a "heartbeat" a proposed 2002 ballot initiative to restore utility regulation and authorize a state takeover of private power operations. He noted that public power has long been a fact of life in Pacific Northwest states, and that publicly owned utilities operate locally in California, including the Department of Water and Power in Los Angeles. "It's a concept that, throughout the country, works," said Burton, who in the early 1980s was a legal and government relations consultant to Northern California's Pacific Gas & Electric Co. At a press conference, Burton cited the complex California energy crisis as the No. 1 issue facing lawmakers when they return on Jan. 3 for the 2001 session.

(Glionna, John M., "Willing to Conserve, but Only if Tree Is Bright: Conflict: Californians find themselves torn by the emergency. Many are worried enough to cut back, but only within limits. Others are cynical." LA Times, 20 December 2000. Full article found at:
(Ingram, Carl, "State Must Consider Regulation of Electricity Industry, Burton Says: Senate leader sees public power system as a possible solution for consumers hit by rising bills," Los Angeles Times, 1 December 2000.)

Proposals suggests using hydro revenues to alleviate debts

A state plan to take over hydroelectric plants owned by Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison has lawmakers and water users concerned it will drain away precious water reserves. The proposal, currently floating around the Assembly, is designed to help the utilities pay down some of the massive debt they face because of the state's electricity crisis. Assemblyman Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, said the plan fails to address what he believes is the state's biggest problem: a lack of capacity in its power generation system. Instead of taking over the hydroelectric plants, Ashburn would like to see the state loosen the environmental restrictions it places on building new power plants in general. But agencies that depend on water stored in the reservoirs that feed the plants fear that efforts to create energy will take precedence over water storage. The hydro plants' estimated $1.25 billion annual revenues would be enough to pay off long-term bonds the state would use to buy more electricity at wholesale prices, said Guy Phillips, water consultant to California Assemblyman Fred Keeley. Conservationists are concerned that this plan puts too much pressure on hydro to run at maximum capacity and pay for the debts incurred by other forms of generation, making it difficult to operate them in a more environmentally sound manner in the future.

(Bragg, Tim, "Water reserves in jeopardy, some say," Bakersfield Californian, 26 January 2001.)

Olivenhain dam construction begins in San Diego area

The $200 million proposed Olivenhain Dam project, is planned as part of a 10-year, $774.5 million effort to give San Diego County a six-month emergency water supply in case an earthquake or other disaster damages pipes that bring in water from the Colorado River or Northern California. Up to 90 percent of the water used in the county is imported. A joint project of the San Diego County Water Authority and Olivenhain Municipal Water District, it will be the county's first new large dam and reservoir in nearly 50 years. The dam, 308 feet tall and 2,400 feet wide, will not block a stream or river. It will box off a canyon and be filled with imported water. The reservoir will hold 24,000 acre-feet of water, or enough to sustain 192,000 people for a year. The overall Emergency Water Storage Project will add 90,000 acre-feet of water to the county's emergency supply. It entails 18 projects, including the Olivenhain Dam and making San Vicente Dam higher to increase its capacity.

(Lavelle, Janet, "Reservoir area once home to famed family, North County Times, 29 November 2000.)
(Soper, Spencer, "Blast marks start of Olivenhain Dam construction," North County Times, 30 November 2000.)
(Soper, Spencer, "Dam construction to begin today," North County Times, 29 November 2000.)

Restoring the Trinity

On Tuesday, US Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt will announce a controversial new plan to undo the damage and restore the Trinity to its former splendor as one of the wildest and most productive waterways in California. The plan intends to revive salmon and steelhead runs that have dwindled to 10 percent of their pre-dam numbers and turned one of the great Pacific Coast fisheries into an artificial tributary of the Sacramento River. The plan -- officially, a record of decision -- is to reduce diversions from the Trinity Division of the Central Valley Project by nearly 25 percent, increasing the minimum flow in the Trinity River from 340,000 acre-feet to 600, 000 acre-feet in an average year. Simultaneously, a project will begin to reshape the river's main stem to handle the additional flow and provide salmon and steelhead spawning beds. The Trinity River restoration project, a collaborative effort by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Hoopa Valley Tribe and Trinity County, may represent the Clinton administration's last big-ticket environmental initiative.

(Brazil, Eric, "Call for a River's Revival: But many farmers don't want to lose water from Trinity," San Francisco Chronicle, 17 December 2000. Full article found at:
(Howard, John, "Landmark decision reverses decades of water policy," Associated Press, 20 December 2000. Full article at:

**Searsville Dam, San Francisquito Creek, CA**
San Francisquito Creek restoration

To Jim Johnson, San Francisquito Creek is a spiritual journey as well as the 11-mile-long meandering waterway that he watches over as its official streamkeeper. For nearly four years, the 55-year-old Redwood City resident has held down the paid job of monitoring the creek watershed, which runs from Searsville Lake dam above Stanford University through five cities to the bay and is the boundary between San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. It has been a daunting mission, but Johnson has achieved much over the past dozen years since he discovered several dead steelhead trout in the creek's trash-choked waters in November 1988, and took it upon himself to restore the long-neglected stream and its environs.

(Workman, Bill, "Creek's Keeper Is Man With Mission: San Francisquito is his personal crusade," San Francisco Chronicle, December 15, 2000. Article located at:

**Englebright Dam, Yuba River, CA**
Lower Yuba River flows decision

A draft decision for the Yuba River would increase minimum flows below Englebright Reservoir and initiate other measures to aid the river's fish population. About 150 people attended the hearing, packing a small room in the Paul R. Bonderson building. It was a standing-room-only crowd. With about 70 people asking to speak, the public hearing was continued to the following month. The board said it would consider the draft decision Feb. 15. Comments to the board ran as expected. Critics said the draft decision would be a calamity for Yuba County. Steve Evans, conservation director for Friends of the River, said it "is a step in the right direction, but it isn't nearly as black and white as other speakers have described, being good for fish and bad for local water interests."

(Kruger, Harold, "Yuba River hearing held: Board to consider draft decision in February," Marysville Appeal-Democrat, 5 December 2000.)


Washington tribes ready to sue over fishing rights

In a move that could give American Indian tribes significant control over a range of activities that include water use and development, eleven Western Washington tribes are seeking to reopen a landmark lawsuit that awards them half of the region's fish catch. To reinvigorate the case, the tribes focused narrowly on the state's admittedly faulty construction and maintenance of culverts, pipes that carry water under streets and railroad tracks and through embankments. Improperly built or maintained culverts block salmon from reaching more than 3,000 miles of streams valuable for salmon reproduction, according to state estimates. The filing by the tribes comes in a long-running case and ostensibly deals only with culverts, but the document carries much broader implications. It seeks to establish that the state has an obligation, based on treaties dating to the 1800s, to practice environmental protection sufficient to allow the tribes "to earn a moderate living from the fishery." While refraining from predicting success in this new filing, an attorney for the tribes acknowledged that it could boost the Indians' ability to affect public policy. "If the tribes are successful, they will try to use this in other arenas to protect habitat," said Seattle lawyer Phil Katzen.

(McClure, Robert, "Tribes reignite legal battle over state's fish catch," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 17 January 2001. Article on-line at:

Sex-change salmon called cause for alarm

Four-fifths of the female salmon spawning in the last free-flowing reach of the Columbia River apparently began life as males, raising troubling new questions about the survival of the Pacific Northwest's signature fish species. In a study that could provide ammunition in the battle over the massive hydropower dams that traverse the Columbia and Snake rivers, researchers at the University of Idaho and Washington State University found significant sex reversals in the fall chinook salmon that spawn on the Columbia's Hanford Reach in central Washington. The research is unsettling because salmon runs in the Hanford Reach -- where the Columbia passes relatively unbridled through the vast Hanford nuclear reservation -- are the healthiest in a region where many are on the brink of collapse. The cause of the embryonic gender shift is unknown, but there are suspects. Environmental estrogens are one possibility. These are the chemical byproducts, potentially traceable to pesticides and industrial runoff, which have been linked to issues like early puberty and infant mortality in humans. The other potential factor is the hydropower dams, which produce temperature fluctuations in the river of the kind known to cause gender modifications in fish.

(Murphy, Kim, "Sex-Change Salmon Called Cause for Alarm: Scientists fear for survival of species as males change to females in large numbers," Los Angeles Times, 20 December 2000. Text at:

The killing of Two Forks dam in Colorado

Ten years ago, the George Bush administration killed a massive Denver-area dam called Two Forks. Dams had been defeated in the past, but not by a Republican president elected with strong support in the Rocky Mountains. Stopping Western dams usually required national campaigns. But the South Platte River and its gold-medal trout fishery in Cheesman Canyon didn't have a national constituency. In addition, Denver and its 40 or so suburban partners were going to pay the $1 billion cost of the 550-foot-high dam out of their residents' pockets. All the dam builders needed from the federal government were regulatory permits. In 1989, after six years and $25 million, the Army Corps of Engineers had completed an environmental impact statement, and was poised to issue the key permit. Only a signature from the US Environmental Protection Agency, which came in the form of a veto from William K. Reilly, President Bush's newly appointed head of the EPA.

Some analysts say that Colorado now has 10 more years before water again becomes a hot topic. In control, for the moment, is a new old-guard. The Denver Water Department under Chips Barry is a progressive force. Environmentalists are key participants within Colorado and federal water planning negotiations. And the metro area has a plan for meeting metro-wide water needs, prepared over the last few years by Hydrosphere, a consulting firm whose principals cut their water teeth by fighting Two Forks. But the power of sprawling growth was shown on November 7, in Colorado and in Arizona, where the two states trounced initiatives that would have confined development within urban growth boundaries. If the fight over water returns to Colorado, it will make Two Forks look like a warm-up act.

(Marston, Ed, "Water pressure," High Country News, 20 November 2000. Article found at:

Endangered Species Act opinion on the Missouri River

The US Fish and Wildlife Service today released its final biological opinion on current Missouri River dam operations, concluding a months-long consultation process and setting the stage for recovery of troubled Missouri River wildlife and tourism-generating fishing and boating. The final opinion is the result of a formal process required by the Endangered Species Act and conducted jointly by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. "This opinion clearly lays out what needs to change on the Missouri River to restore natural flows and avoid extinction," said Chad Smith, Director of American Rivers' Missouri River Field Office. "It's exhaustive, it's based on a mountain of science, and it's a reasoned approach." The Corps is currently revising the Missouri River Master Water Control Manual ("Master Manual"), the guide used by the federal agency to set releases for six dams in eastern Montana and the Dakotas. This review of dam operations has been ongoing since 1989, but the Corps has not yet proposed reforms that would meet the needs of federally protected species.

(US Newswire, "Final Missouri River Opinion Released Today Will Restore Uses by People and Wildlife, Says American Rivers.")

**Gold Ray Dam, Rogue River, OR**
Dam demolition provides military training

A dam labeled a potential fish trap by biologists could become a military training ground for operating heavy equipment. If the Department of Defense agrees to help the city, reservists may use bulldozers and other equipment to remove the diversion dam, which creates a channel of the Rogue River about a mile from downtown Gold Hill. The National Marine Fisheries Service has said the dam is a barrier to fish passing from the Pacific Ocean to their upper Rogue spawning grounds. Last June, he supervised the removal of a dam and powerhouse on the East Machias River in Maine. Crews excavated 200,000 tons of concrete and torched out five tractor-trailer loads of metal, which was sold to a Canadian scrap dealer. Other projects involved removal of a levy in the San Francisco Bay to return an old airfield back into marshland and demolition of a tarmac and dam in the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island.

("Wham, bam, thank you for the dam: The removal of a diversion dam near Gold Hill offers a training opportunity for military reservists," Associated Press, 19 January 2001.)


All parties pleased with plans for demolition of paper mill and dam

The third phase of demolition at a closed paper mill in Pennsylvania will involved the removal of a dam. McKenna said International Paper has received positive feedback from township officials and local residents on the demolition, which began last spring. Everything has been positive, he said, adding that he met with adjoining landowners earlier last year. They can see the value of their land increasing, he said. McKenna said International Paper would be receiving a letter of commendation from township supervisors and that Supervisor Richard Johnson had told him the township had never seen a project of this magnitude go so smoothly.

(Demeter, Tim, "Closed Mill Cleanup in Durham Progresses," Allentown Morning Call, 15 November 2000.)

**Cupsaw Lake Dam, Cupsaw Brook, NJ**
Cupsaw Lake residents pay to save the "centerpiece of their community"

The Cupsaw Lake Dam was listed by the state Department of Environmental Protection as in need of repairs in 1980, and some work was done on the spillway in the mid-1980s. But more work is needed before the 1930s-era dam could meet safety standards, said John Moyle, chief of the DEP's Dam Safety Division. Wary of what fierce rainstorms have done to some dams in other North Jersey communities, the Cupsaw Lake property owners association is making sure its dam is upgraded to withstand future storms. Many Cupsaw Lake residents are unhappy that the centerpiece of their community has been drained and that the dam improvements will cost the homeowners association more than $350,000. But leaders of the Cupsaw Lake Improvement Association say they are doing the right thing. It was already aiming to upgrade its dam in 2001 when a freak rainstorm in August washed out four dams on small lakes in Sussex County, causing millions of dollars in damage to downstream homes and roads.

(Barry, Jan, "Dam's neighbors lost without lake amid muddy mess," 5 December 2000, Bergen Record. Full story at: