No. 71, November 22, 2005

River Revival Bulletin

Produced by: River Revival, International Rivers
Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Wil Dvorak

table of contents











European public banks accept World Commission on Dams recommendations

The two biggest public banks in Europe, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have announced that they will take into account the international standards for dam–building set by the World Commission on Dams (WCD). "We welcome the decision of the two biggest public banks in Europe to join the growing number of institutions worldwide that take seriously the World Commission on Dams� recommendations," says Ann Kathrin Schneider, Policy Analyst for International Rivers. The EIB has told International Rivers that it will "align to" the recommendations of the WCD for any large dams from which it sources carbon credits. The EBRD has told International Rivers that any large hydro projects from which it sources carbon credits "will have been considered in relation to the WCD criteria and guidelines." However, neither of the institutions have translated these verbal commitments into binding obligations. The statements are not yet mandatory policies and are not reflected in the environmental policies of the institutions. In contrast to the EIB and EBRD, the World Bank is continuing to disregard the recommendations of the WCD, despite being one of the Commission’s two original co–sponsors. The World Bank has so far refused to confirm to International Rivers that they will respect the WCD in developing carbon trading hydro projects.

(International Rivers, "European Public Banks Accept World Commission on Dams Recommendations," Civil Society Calls for Stronger Kyoto at Copenhagen, 6 October 2005.)


Cheonggyecheon River, Seoul, Korea

Restoring a river’s soul

Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon River is symbolic of what modernity can do to nature’s gift to man. Since the end of World War II, Seoul has been in the race to become one of Asia’s most affluent societies. Today, this vibrant and hip city seeks to reconcile its past with the thoroughly modern through a gargantuan infrastructure project: the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon, an ancient waterway which once ran through the heart of Seoul, connecting it to a vast mountain range on the outskirts of the city. When Seoul was first established as the capital of the Chosun kingdom more than 600 years ago, the Cheonggyecheon River was dredged and expanded by King Yongjo. By the 20th century, flooding and sanitation problems as well as rapid urbanization spurred several administrations to fill in the river. The Cheonggyecheon soon became an urban jungle congested with overpasses and traffic. In 2003, the city’s mayor initiated an ambitious engineering project to bring the river back to its once pristine condition. The logistics of restoring the river, which included removing and recycling more than a million tonnes of concrete, rerouting three million vehicles a day, and relocating one of Seoul’s largest markets, was a daunting task for Korea’s top engineers.

(Kamal, Hizreen, "Restoring a river’s soul," The New Straits Times Press, 13 October 2005.)


Symposium’s focus is McCloud–Pit River hydropower relicensing

California Trout and the California Hydropower Reform Coalition co–sponsored a one–day symposium about the McCloud–Pit River hydropower relicensing process. Pacific Gas and Electric, which owns the four–dam hydropower complex on the McCloud and Pit Rivers, is beginning the five–year process of applying to obtain a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. New license conditions will govern project operations and provide protection and mitigation measures for environmental and recreational resources for at least the next 30 years. "Hydropower relicensing proceedings provide a once–in–a–lifetime opportunity for local organizations to have an impact on the protection and restoration of rivers adversely affected by hydropower development," CalTrout area manager Curtis Knight said. "Changes in project operations can benefit the environment, public recreational opportunities, and local economies. Effective hydropower relicensing needs local input – especially among groups that have intimate knowledge of the affected river and watershed," Knight said. "Those interested in the management of the beautiful McCloud River over the next 30 years are encouraged to attend." The goals of the symposium are to provide information to the public about the hydro project, the FERC process and ways to get involved. (Mount Shasta Herald, "Symposium’s focus is McCloud–Pit River hydropower relicensing,", 26 October 2005.)

Dirty hands for a great cause: Volunteers help clean up Truckee River

In the middle of Truckee’s shoulder season, one event still has the power to draw hundreds of volunteers on what would normally be a sleepy fall day. Truckee River Day, which this year celebrated a decade of river restoration, was a huge success drawing an estimated 650 workers. But that is no surprise anymore. Despite the fickle fall weather in Truckee, volunteers have shown up in force each year during the last decade to get their hands dirty for the good of the Truckee River. This year, much of the focus of the event was to reverse the harm that humans have inflicted on the watershed over the years. Submerged rebar from an old mill that was unceremoniously dumped into the Truckee decades ago was carted out of the river channel. And volunteers planted what will soon become a meadow after a creek near Stampede Reservoir is rerouted back to its natural course. The creek hasn’t flowed in its natural bed since an old railroad grade pushed the waterway in a new direction. Another group built a boardwalk over a heavily used trail in the Martis Valley, preserving the often soggy ground that sees hundreds of human and canine feet cross it each spring and summer.

(Sierra Sun, "Our View: Dirty hands for a great cause,", 18 October 2005.)

Friant Dam, San Joaquin River, CA

Rehabbing the San Joaquin won’t come cheap

An unfinished strategies report compiled by San Joaquin River litigants is now serving as ammunition for Friant Dam backers who believe going back to a time of a free–flowing river is socially and economically impossible. The studies were conducted jointly by Natural Resources Defense Council and Friant Water Users Authority beginning in 1999 and ending in 2003 with the completion of the draft "Restoration Strategies Report." The report outlines the difficulties inherent in restoring the San Joaquin River to a naturally reproducing salmon fishery as demanded by a coalition of environmental groups led by NRDC. The conceptual document also illustrates the need for more detailed studies to determine what amount of river restoration is realistic and achievable. As part of an effort to settle a 1988 lawsuit concerning the San Joaquin River, joint studies were conducted to investigate restoration of the river to support a naturally reproducing salmon fishery and related water supply possibilities. The report highlights the significant improvements needed for restoration, beyond the quantities of water required for salmon restoration on the San Joaquin River. An "enormous" amount would be needed, the water group said. The report estimated the cost of the physical improvements to the river channel alone would exceed $650 million. Additionally, the report estimated a naturally reproducing salmon fishery would require from 385,000 acre–feet to 1.8 million acre–feet of water.

(Power, Chip, "Rehabbing the San Joaquin won’t come cheap," Capital Press Agricultural Weekly, 7 October 2005.)

US Representative Mike Thompson speaks up on plan for Klamath River

US Rep. Mike Thompson (D–Napa) issued a statement in reaction to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of the Bush administration’s water diversion plan for the Klamath River. The court rejected the plan on the grounds that it would not protect threatened Klamath River coho salmon. Thompson was one of the plaintiffs in the case. The "unanimous decision by the court confirmed what we have been saying for years: Klamath River salmon need sufficient flows of cool, clean water to survive," Thompson said. "A sustainable water plan in the Klamath benefits fishing communities up and down the Pacific Coast. This year’s drastically reduced salmon season is a product of the first year of the administration’s water plan, which resulted in up to 80,000 dead fish. The 9th circuit has handed down a major victory for salmon restoration efforts." Thompson represents California’s First District, which spans much of the coast of Northern California.

(The Eureka Reporter, "Thompson speaks up on Klamath,", 19 October 2005.)

Trinity River projects to be aired

With one significant river rehab project nearly complete, the Trinity River Restoration Program is preparing to launch another suite of efforts aimed at improving fisheries. The four new projects involve removing vegetation from the banks of the Trinity River near Canyon Creek and lowering the flood plain. Some backwater channels and channels to accommodate high water will also be formed in the approximately 6 miles between Junction City and Helena. "We’re taking the handcuffs off the river," said program senior scientist Rod Wittler. "We’re allowing it to be a river again." Since the Lewiston Dam and diversion project was completed in the 1960s, the vast majority of the upper watershed’s water has been sent to the Sacramento River, where it’s pumped to Central Valley farms. A 2000 decision signed by former U.S. Interior Department Secretary Bruce Babbitt ordered roughly half the water to flow down the river to aid its ailing fishery. The Hoopa Valley Tribe successfully fought off irrigators’ legal challenges to that decision, and work on the river began in full swing last year. During wet years, the program intends to use high flows – in combination with mechanically prepared areas – to reshape the river. The goal is to create more rearing habitat, Wittler said, areas where young salmon can grow before migrating to the Klamath River and out to sea.

(Driscoll, John, "Trinity River projects to be aired," Eureka Times Standard, 11 October 2005.)


Dam removal returns from back burner

BASS/ESPN Outdoors and the American Sportfishing Association – a nonprofit organization that represents fishing tackle manufacturers – will lead a coalition to support a new grant program called the Open Rivers Initiative, which is designed to provide funding to communities for removal of obsolete and derelict stream barriers such as dams. BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. The US Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the new initiative at a White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation in St. Louis. According to papers presented at the conference, there are currently more than 2 million small dams and other barriers blocking fish passage in the US. Removing obsolete low head dams and other blockages thus far has opened hundreds of miles of vitally important habitat to fish that rely on migrating through rivers to spawn. Dam removal also has boosted local economies by dramatically improving recreational fishing opportunities. By coming forth with a new funding source to remove more dams and barriers, NOAA has responded to one of the more important fisheries management problems in the country. "The Open Rivers Initiative can make a much–needed contribution to our nation’s overall aquatic health," Conservation Director Noreen Clough said.

(Suburban Chicago Newspapers, "Dam removal returns from back burner,", 13 September 2005.)


Dam removal to return Cuyahoga to natural, free–flowing state

For the first time in more than 160 years, the Cuyahoga River will become a free–flowing stream from Lake Rockwell, north of Kent, to Cuyahoga Falls near Akron. Munroe Falls City Council has decided to remove the sandstone–block dam on the river, which for decades has been the community’s icon. Kent rerouted the river around its historic arch dam earlier this year. That will open ten miles of the Cuyahoga to kayakers and canoeists who will no longer have to portage around man–made dams. Returning the river to its natural, free–flowing state will improve the fish habitat, allowing them to move in a wider area. It also will heighten oxygen levels and promote growth of small organisms that fish eat. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency proposed five years ago that the dams in Kent and Munroe Falls be removed or altered to meet federal Clean Water Act requirements.

(The Associated Press, "Dam removal to return Cuyahoga to natural, free–flowing state,", 29 September 2005.)


Watershed group announces restoration of Ipswich River

The Ipswich River Watershed Association announced the launch of an initiative aimed at restoring the health of the Ipswich River. The river, which originates from streams and brooks in Wilmington, frequently dries up during late summer and early fall, leading to fish kills and poor water quality. "After years of study, we now have a good understanding of the causes of the extreme low–flow conditions, and we know how much water should naturally be flowing during the summer months. Now it’s time to take action," said Kerry Mackin, executive director of the association. Emily Levin will coordinate the Watershed Association’s new Restoration Program, the first of its kind in the state. "We aim to increase flows in the river, as well as to improve water quality and reconnect fragmented habitat," Levin explained. The Association is offering technical assistance to help watershed towns with water conservation, storm water management, and low–impact development. The restoration program will also identify priority sites for on–the–ground restoration work, such as dam removals and wetland restoration. For more information, contact the Ipswich River Watershed Association: .

(Tewksbury Advocate, "Watershed group announces restoration of Ipswich River,", 13 October 2005.)

Octoraro Creek Dam, MD

Dam removal invites fish back up Octoraro Creek

The unused stone and timber Octoraro Creek Dam located in Cecil County, four miles upstream of where the creek flows into the Susquehanna River, has formed a barrier to fish passage, preventing them from moving upstream to spawn. Dam removal will re–open 19 miles of spawning habitat for anadromous fish species such as American and hickory shad, yellow and white perch, and the catadromous American eel. One of the first of its kind in Maryland, the dam removal is permitted to occur in a flowing stream rather than requiring dewatering the dam and pumping streamflow around the site.

(Evans, Megan, "Dam Removal Invites Fish Back up Octoraro Creek,", 3 October 2005.)


Condit Dam, White Salmon River, WA

State Ecology Department concerned removal of Condit Dam could harm fish

Fish advocates see the plan to demolish Condit Dam on the White Salmon River as good news for salmon everywhere, but the state Ecology Department says the project could hurt fish downstream and might violate the federal Endangered Species Act. Demolition of the 125–foot–high hydroelectric dam, owned by Portland–based PacifiCorp, is proposed for October 2008. The project would open 33 miles of steelhead habitat and 14 miles of salmon habitat in the area of the river blocked by the dam since 1913. Following years of negotiations and talks with regulators and environmental groups, PacifiCorp has begun filing permit applications to remove the dam that generates 14.7 megawatts, enough power for about 7,800 homes. PacifiCorp proposes to tunnel and blast a 12–by–18–foot hole near the dam’s base, drain Northwestern Lake and release more than 2 million yards of sediment that has built up behind the dam. The sediment plume could kill fish and other aquatic species below Condit Dam and displace fish in the Columbia River downstream to Bonneville Dam, according to Ecology’s draft environmental impact statement. Officials also fear the sediment could wipe out a population of endangered chum salmon for as long as four or five generations.

(Associated Press, "Ecology: Dam Removal Could Damage Salmon,", 25 October 2005.)

Mike Horse Dam, Blackfood River, MT

Forest gets 3,700 comments asking for removal of dam

About 3,700 e–mails and letters have been sent to the head of the Helena National Forest, asking him to order the removal of the Mike Horse dam at the headwaters of the Blackfoot River. The comments were part of a mailing organized by the Clark Fork Coalition, which sent a letter to Forest Supervisor Kevin Riordan enclosing 444 postcards signed by citizens. The Missoula–based Coalition said that this is only the latest articulation of a message the public has been sending for three decades, "to eliminate once and for all this toxic threat to one of our nation’s most beloved rivers." In a press release from the Coalition, Blackfoot Valley ranch foreman Mark Gerlach noted that a recent engineering report from the Forest Service said the dam would fail in a flood and it’s only a matter of time before that happens. The dam failed during a flood in 1975, washing thousands of tons of toxic mine tailings downstream and killing most of the aquatic life in the upper 10 miles of the Blackfoot River. The dam was repaired and sits on land now owned by Asarco. The Anaconda Mining Co., which was purchased by Atlantic Richfield Co. in 1977, also has some responsibility for the structure, according to Kamps. Recent engineering studies show that the dam is deteriorating and at risk of another failure.

(Byron, Eve, "Forest gets 3,700 comments asking for removal of dam,", 24 September 2005.)


Damage can be reversed on Florida’s Caloosahatchee River

The continuing oyster–reef project in Southwest Florida is an example of enlisting volunteers, especially the young, in the battle to regain some of the natural vitality from this rich area. Florida Gulf Coast University scientists and local volunteers, more than 80 of them, tackled oyster–shell reef construction and restoration at two sites in Estero Bay. Restoration efforts also included the tidal area of the Caloosahatchee River. The aim is to restore and enhance oyster reefs, which should improve water quality and habitat. FGCU scientists are working with local and federal agencies and the South Florida Water Management District, which is financing this continuing project. This is an excellent way to involve the public in what will be a huge challenge here in coming years, the restoration and improvement of an environment degraded by growth.

(The News Press, "Damage can be reversed; The effort to build oyster reefs in Estero Bay is an example of how we can regain some of the area’s natural vitality," New–, 19 October 2005.)


Adaptive management key to protecting Colorado River ecosystem in Grand Canyon

The USGS released The State of the Colorado River Ecosystem in Grand Canyon, a comprehensive report that details the impacts of the operation of Glen Canyon Dam and other management actions on downstream resources within Grand Canyon National Park. The 220–page report assesses scientific studies of aquatic, riparian, fish, sediment, recreation, and cultural resources from 1991 through 2004. The report was prepared at the request of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG), a federal advisory committee that makes recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior on the operation of Glen Canyon Dam and other management actions. The USGS report and other pertinent data, including the results of the November 2004 High–Flow Experiment, not included in this report, will be used by the AMWG to assess current practices and make recommendations to the Secretary. "We live in an age when science allows us to clarify what is happening in complex natural systems like Grand Canyon," said Dr. Ted Melis, Acting Chief of the GCMRC and one of the report’s authors and editors. "This report proves the vital importance of science–based adaptive ecosystem management. Its analysis and results can help managers fine tune dam operations and identify other actions to benefit downstream resources, from native fishes to camping beaches, that the public values in Grand Canyon. Download the report.

(News Release, "Adaptive Management Key to Protecting Colorado River Ecosystem in Grand Canyon," U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 25 October 2005.)