No. 67, May 11, 2005

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River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Wil Dvorak

table of contents  









Day of Action for Rivers around the world: Making a Stand for Healthy Rivers!

Across the globe, in places where rivers and communities are threatened by destructive river–development schemes, people and their supporters united on March 14 to celebrate the eighth annual International Day of Action for Rivers. As always, creative approaches were the norm, and actions ranged from hunger strikes to sit–ins; dam–site blockades to urban protest marches; children’s events to public seminars; spiritual ceremonies to boat trips down threatened rivers. Thousands of people took part in more than 90 actions in at least 30 countries to fight for river protection and the rights of communities over their resources and lives. The Day of Action is a time for the global community to celebrate, educate and demonstrate the importance of healthy rivers to people’s lives and livelihoods. It is a time to honor affected peoples whose lives have been massively impacted by dams. For those who took to the streets on March 14, the world says thank you for standing up for rivers and making your voices heard.

For more information about these and other actions, visit

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, or e–mail'.

Standards sought for successful river restoration

The ecological community is seeking agreement on a set of standards for ecologically successful river restoration. Opening the debate is a paper by leading US river ecologists, appearing in the Journal of Applied Ecology and Science magazine. Their aim is to arrive at an agreed set of standards which would eventually be endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme. Billions of dollars are spent on river restoration projects worldwide, but little agreement exists on how success is measured. Lead author Dr Margaret Palmer of the University of Maryland says, "Given the rapid rate of global degradation of fresh waters, and the fact that river and stream restoration has become a booming enterprise, it is time to agree on what constitutes successful river and stream restoration." "River restoration" applies to activities such as reforesting riverbanks to curb erosion, recreating the natural river channel to reduce downstream flooding, restoring wetlands to filter pollution, and removing dams to allow fish to migrate freely up and downstream. The group of 25 scientists has developed a database of 37,099 restoration projects, and have used it to draw conclusions about regional and national trends in the numbers and types of projects being performed, along with their costs and environmental benefits. Palmer and her colleagues say that the success of river restoration should be judged according to five criteria: a guiding image; improving ecosystems; increasing resilience; doing no lasting harm; and completing an ecological assessment.

(Academy of Natural Sciences, "Scientists take major step to improve river restoration efforts,", 28 April 2005. More:

(Science Daily, "Putting Ecology Back Into River Restoration," Blackwell Publishing, Inc. 20 April 2005. Text found at:


Sardar Sarovar Dam, Narmada River, India

India’s Supreme Court vindicates demands of affected people

In a landmark decision, India’s Supreme Court on March 15, 2005, vindicated important concerns of the communities affected by the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Dam. Most importantly, the Court strongly confirmed earlier decisions according to which dam construction can only continue once every affected person has been rehabilitated. With 4,300 dams in place, India is one of the world’s major dam–building countries. According to estimates, large dams have submerged a land area of about 37,500 square kilometers and have displaced at least 42 million people in India. As Arundhati Roy has said, "For over half a century we’ve believed that Big Dams would deliver the people of India from hunger and poverty. The opposite has happened." For decades, people in India have been fighting dams. Through the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement) villagers have been opposing the massive Narmada Valley Development Project, which consists of hundreds of dams and an extensive irrigation system and will result in the displacement of millions of people. International Rivers has supported the movement fighting dams on the Narmada for over a decade and works to mobilize international pressure to stop these destructive projects.

(Bosshard, Peter, Narmada Dam: India’s Supreme Court Vindicates Demands of Affected People, International Rivers, 4 April 2005.)


Montenegro abandons plans to flood Tara Gorge

Montenegro has abandoned plans to build a dam that would flood parts of its cherished Tara Gorge, yielding to public pressure and warnings from the United Nations. The decision comes after months of demonstrations calling for the protection of the Tara River canyon, the deepest and longest canyon in Europe and a United Nations World Heritage Site. The 80 km (50 mile) canyon, part of Montenegro’s Durmitor National Park, is a tourist attraction in the impoverished former Yugoslav republic. Locals call it the "tear of Europe" for its clear waters. "Montenegro has decided to halt the preparation for and the building of the hydro electric power plant," Environment Minister Boro Vucinic quoted a letter to the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as saying. Montenegro and the Serb half of neighboring Bosnia had planned to build the dam on Bosnia’s River Drina which would flood 12 km of the Tara River canyon. It would have provided enough power to cut the coastal republic’s energy deficit by one–third, saving some 17 million euros ($22 million) a year. UNESCO experts who visited Montenegro in January urged Montenegro not to build the dam, saying it was a potential threat to the national park.

(Planet Ark, World Environment News, "Montenegro Abandons Plans to Flood Tara Gorge," 4 April 2005.)


$1 million grant for removing inflatable dam blocking Alameda Creek steelhead

The Alameda County Water District has been given $1 million to help make 15 miles of Alameda Creek available for steelhead trout to migrate and spawn. Two grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will help pay to remove an inflatable rubber dam near Quarry Lakes. The 200–foot–wide dam, which helps the water district provide up to half of the water used in Fremont, has the side effect of preventing the fish from migrating, the district said. To keep the water from being lost once the dam is removed, a pipeline will be built to keep it flowing to the aquifers below the Fremont area. "It’s a win–win situation," district General Manager Paul Piraino said. The grant also will be used to install high–tech screens over the 54–inch–wide pipes. The screens will prevent the fish from becoming trapped in the pipes. Removing the dam and installing the screens will be the first step to restoring the migration path of the steelhead. Later phases will remove similar dams upstream. The district is looking for state and federal funds to offset the additional $7 million it expects the project to cost, Piraino said. The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2006.

(Shatzman Barry, "Dam removal will save fish, keep water flowing," Oakland Tribune, 4 May 2005.)

Klamath River dams, Klamath River, CA

A singular chance for Upper Klamath Lake salmon

The salmon that return to the Klamath River have been in a holding pattern of sorts since 2001, waiting on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s relicensing process. PacifiCorps, a subsidiary of multinational energy giant Scottish Power, operates seven dams on the Klamath River. Their licenses will expire in 2006. Those who are interested in bringing the salmon back home to the Upper Klamath Lake see the current window as a once–in–a–lifetime opportunity to decommission or remove the most egregious hydropower obstacles so the fish can have the run of the river. FERC, which controls the operation and fate of federal hydroelectric dams, generally authorizes licenses for 30 to 50 years at a time. The Klamath River was once the third most productive salmon fishery in America, with as many as 1.2 million adult fish coming back upstream to their spawning grounds every year. After almost a century of dam–building, one–tenth of that number successfully return – and are relegated to the lower stretch of the river. As Carl Ullman, longtime water attorney for the Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc, and Yahoosking Band of Snake) said, "The Klamath have treaty rights in perpetuity to the fishery that was shut off by Copco Dam in 1917. Since then the tribes have never stopped trying to get the fish back, and now it looks like the relicensing of the dams is an opportunity to move in that direction."

(Johnson, Jean, "A singular chance for Upper Klamath Lake salmon," Indian Country Today, 18 April 2005.)

Aruja Dam, Shasta River, CA

Shasta Valley dam removal and water restoration projects

The Aruja Dam removal project is a perfect example of the type of projects the Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District (SVRCD) participates in and supports," SVRCD Chairman of the Board Blair Hart said. "Together, working with five individual water users, the SVRCD and the USDA–Natural Resources Conservation Service are working on creating a water delivery system that is not only economically beneficial to the water users but will also improve water quality and enhance stream habitat in the Shasta River for species such as the state and federally listed coho salmon. The SVRCD is currently seeking funding from a variety of state and federal agencies, including the NRCS, for the Aruja Dam Removal Project. Currently, the SVRCD is pursuing funds available through the NRCS’s Wildlife Habitat Improvements Project. The Aruja Dam removal project competes for funding on a regional basis. If funded, the Aruja Dam removal project will act as a model for others in the state of California on how innovative and collaborative partnerships with the SVRCD can beneficially serve both the economic and natural resource viability of the community. The SVRCD has been working throughout the Shasta Valley for the past 15 years on restoration and conservation projects on both private and public lands. The SVRCD’s mission is to enhance and conserve the economic stability of natural resources.

(Siskiyou Daily News, "Conservationist visits Shasta Valley," 12 April 2005.)

Woodland opposes wild, scenic designation for Cache Creek

The Woodland City Council voted unanimously to oppose AB 1328, the bill that would designate 31 miles of Cache Creek wild and scenic, fearing the new status would limit the city’s flood control options. Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D–Davis, who is working to garner and keep support of her bill, did not attend the council meeting. She did give a progress report on her bill to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. She is working with agencies that oppose her bill to find common ground to win support. According to Woodland Mayor Matt Rexroad, the city of Woodland does not favor a dam on Cache Creek per se, but does not want any potential flood control options taken off the table. "We oppose the bill unless it’s amended to give us more options," he said this morning. "We don’t want our hands tied." An independent report prepared by the California Research Bureau on impacts of wild and scenic designation on other state waterways found that the act’s most obvious effect is to sometimes block proposals to create or expand dams. Supporters of the bill include Cache Creek Wild, Tuleyome, Friends of the River, Yolo Audubon and the Sierra Club Yolano Group.

(Sherwin, Elisabeth, "Woodland opposes wild, scenic designation," The Davis Enterprise 20, April 2005.)

us – northwest  

Snake River dams, Snake River, WA

Update: Salmon tell us good times are over; spring chinook run has nearly disappeared

Ocean conditions for salmon have been ideal for those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest. Salmon started to return in numbers that made it possible to believe this magnificent fish would escape extinction. The good times seemed like they would last forever. The Bush administration even wrote its salmon plan based on those notions of good times. Last year, the federal salmon plan said times were so good that we could ignore the impact of dams. The dams were now to be thought of as just another feature along the Columbia and Snake rivers, a permanent part of the environment. After all, the fish were doing well enough, so it wasn’t even worth considering any plan that required dam removal. As a token of those good times, the salmon plan accorded the dams an essential license to kill some 90 percent of the salmon stocks. "We don’t need a judge to tell us the federal plan is a failure –– the fish just did," says Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportsfishing Industry Association. Good enough is over. We’re now back in the extinction arena because the spring chinook run has nearly disappeared from the Columbia River. Projection for the salmon count at Bonneville Dam was about 250,000 fish –– half the size of the run in 2001. As of last week, only a couple thousand fish had been counted.

(Trahant, Mark, "Salmon tell us good times are over," editorial, Seattle Post–Intelligencer, 24 April 2005.)

us – midwest  

Mill Creek Pond Dam, Mill Creek, MI

Planning begins for Dexter dam removal

For 181 years, the Mill Creek Pond Dam has been part of the landscape and ecology of Dexter, Michigan, but the talk of the town these days is what life would be like without it. A group of public officials, engineers and environmentalists met in April to discuss ways to remove the dam. They received a long list of studies and permits that must precede the work. The document was prepared by the Huron River Watershed Council, which hosted the meeting to launch an effort to chart the future of the Dexter dam. The watershed council and the village of Dexter support the dam’s removal. The dam blocks the free flow of the stream, hampering the migration of aquatic species and raising the creek’s temperatures. The village envisions turning a 22–acre piece of new dry land into a community park. One stumbling block to the dam’s removal is the uncertainty of its ownership, said Brad Smith, village attorney. The village has spent thousands of dollars to trace the lawful owner of the dam but has no conclusive answer, the attorney said. The dam was originally built in 1824, creating the pond, and was later purchased by Henry Ford. After Ford deeded it to either the village or the state of Michigan, it is believed to have changed ownership in later years.

(Pyen, Chong W., "Meeting on Dexter dam’s future focuses on the many hurdles village would face," Ann Arbor News, 19 April 2005.)

Little River Wetlands Project acquiring Eagle Marsh

If a group of local preservationists succeed in acquiring what they call "Eagle Marsh," it would be an unusual accomplishment in environmental restoration. Eagle Marsh is a 680–acre area on the northern edge of Fox Island, the county park. The Little River Wetlands Project is trying to raise $2.1 million by May 31 to buy that land, which is now farmed. That figure includes $300,000 to help maintain the property, in addition to the $1.8 million purchase price. The deal they’ve negotiated isn’t bad – $2,650 per acre is cheap land in Aboite Township – and it’s a great opportunity. Paul McAfee, the executive director of the wetlands project, said it would become the third–largest wetlands–restoration project in Indiana. The two largest, in southwest and northwest Indiana, are both much larger – roughly 7,000 acres each. But the difference with Eagle Marsh would be its proximity to Indiana’s second–largest city. It would be right on the edge of the Fort Wayne. Besides being close to the city, it would adjoin restored wetlands in the northern part of Fox Island, as well as smaller wetlands restored by National Serv–All.Together. McAfee said, this would create an unbroken 1,500 acres of superior wildlife habitat, mostly kept as natural or very lightly disturbed areas.

For more information, visit or call the Little River Wetlands Project at +1 26–478–2515.

(Caylor, Bob, "An urban nature preserve; Acquiring Eagle Marsh would create a huge wildlife habitat on the edge of Fort Wayne,", 27 April 2005.)

The fight to save the Cache River swamps

The Cache River wetlands in extreme Southern Illinois are amazing to see – even after having large areas drained a century ago. In this wetland, particularly in the National Natural Landmark "Buttonland Swamp," are some of the oldest trees in the US This wetland, which is located in the "lower Cache," escaped the drainage district and the loggers and contains cypress trees that are up to a 1,000 years old, and have hundreds of "knees," some of which are taller than a person. Even the National Geographic, in a 1992 story several years ago, referred to the Cache wetlands as "internationally significant." But looks can be deceiving. In spite of the all of the publicity about the area in the last decade, the ecosystem is in trouble. The wetlands and river are filling up with silt and becoming highly vegetated, because there’s still too much disturbance and pollution in the watershed. Too many consecutive years of unnaturally high water levels, artificially sustained by what was supposed to be a "temporary" impoundment on private property (but supported by the partnership) has killed most of the natural hardwood component of the swamp, leaving it a brush and duckweed filled, almost entirely cypress/tupelo wetland forest, devoid of the natural wetland hardwoods that once lived in the shallow ridges in the swamp. The small strip of swamp that still survives is having a hard time surrounded by agriculture, highways, and residential development.

(Donham, Mark, "The Fight to Save the Cache River Swamps," CounterPunch, 27 April 2005.)

Research reveals river recovery after dam removal

After the removal of the St. John’s Dam in 2003, a research team was assembled to study the effects it may have on the river over a five–year period. Bob Gable of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources division of natural areas and preserves, said fish species that require fast–moving currents have increased in numbers. "There is a good population of small mouth bass and red horse sucker. The prominent species use to be carp and green sunfish," he said. Both species, carp and green sunfish, prefer pools with slow moving currents. Those conditions were created by the dam. "Last year we saw a dramatic decline in the number of carp and green sunfish. We are seeing a shift in the fish community," he said. Gable said that in a healthy river system, the water flow naturally creates a series of riffle run pools. "When you build a dam, you destroy that complex. By removing the dam, you go back to the riffle run pools complex over time," he said. Researchers also have observed an increase in the number of darters and minnows, which require fast moving currents. Darters and minnows are prayed upon by the bass. Gable said the higher number of fish that require faster moving waters to flourish is encouraging, but it will still take some time for the river to make a full recovery.

(Ison, Patrick, "Research reveals river recovery after dam removal," advertiser–, 28 April 2005.)

us – northeast  

Birch Run Dam, Conococheague Creek, PA

Dam removal contract awarded

The Chambersburg Borough Council awarded a $1.35 million contract to breach the Birch Run Dam in Michaux State Forest. The contract went to the low bidder, John W. Gleim Jr. Inc. of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The company submitted a bid less than half the $2.88 million bid by Conewago Enterprises of Hanover. Under a water allocation agreement reached with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection last year, the borough is obligated to remove the dam, which no longer is used as a reservoir for the borough’s water system, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said. Oyer said the DEP determined several years ago that the dam posed a hazard because of seepage and an inadequate spillway. The contract calls for the contractor to remove the dam and spillway, and restore Conococheague Creek to its original course, he said. Oyer said the project could begin this summer and will take about six months to complete. The contract will be paid for with money from the borough’s water capital reserve fund, Oyer said. While the borough has received several million dollars in grants in recent years for other water projects, Oyer said the reserve fund is money that has been accumulated from water customers over the years to pay for anticipated water projects.

(Aines, Don, "Dam removal contract awarded," herald–, 13 April 2005.)

Going with the flow: Taking out dams

The Irving Mill Dam was one of 11 dam removals across the state of Pennsylvania costing a total of $1 million in 2004. Fifty dam removal/habitat restoration projects were under way in 2004. Since 1995, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and its partners have expedited the construction of 12 fishways and the removal of about 75 dams resulting in the reopening and/or restoration of over 500 miles of previously blocked and impacted stream habitat, according to PFBC. In addition to safety and habitat concerns, the dams are removed because they no longer serve a functional purpose. Because the dams are down, the water will be cleaner because there will be no algae backup. The water will be cooler because its flow is unimpeded. And new macro–invertebrates, which are food supply for aquatic animals such as fish, will rejuvenate themselves. One of the primary objectives of taking the dam out is to allow this fish to return to their historic spawning areas. These dams pose an obstacle to the migration of fish since they live most of their life in the ocean and come back to the Delaware River and creeks to spawn. In addition, dams have a negative impact on stream ecosystems. Dams decrease water velocity upstream, creating water impoundments and silt to settle on the bottom of streams, creating a negative impact on habitat. Dams also modify water temperatures, changing the type of organisms, particularly fish that live in rivers and creeks.

(Roman, John M., "Going with the Flow: Taking out dams improving conditions along Ridley Creek,", 17 April 2005.)