No. 1, October 30, 1998

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Rani Derasary


  • Proposal to streamline FERC relicensing process receives criticism
  • Public support for restoration of Glen Canyon mounts
  • Gorton Legislation further delays Elwha dam removal
  • Removal of four Lower Snake dams deemed best option to restore salmon populations
  • Biologist urges cooperation for dam removal
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District launches restoration effort on the Guadalupe
  • Public comment can help restore the Trinity River
  • Bakerton Dam faces safety issues
  • Removal of sediment increases estimated cost of Embrey dam removal
  • Clinton announces restoration plan for the Everglades
  • Floodwaters wash away villages


**FERC Relicensing**

Proposal to streamline FERC relicensing process receives criticism

FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) relicensing is widely viewed as a faulty process, but a proposal to streamline and speed up the procedure with legislation is being criticized by conservationists. "The legislative changes being proposed by the hydropower industry would result in reduced environmental protections at hydropower dams," said Margaret Bowman, chair of the Hydropower Reform Coalition, which includes 40 conservation groups. These groups prefer administrative changes allowing improved access and education so others can more easily participate in the relicensing process.


**Glen Canyon Dam, Colorado River, Utah/Arizona**

Public support for restoration of Glen Canyon mounts

The Fourth Annual conference of the Glen Canyon Institute, held from 13-15 October in Salt Lake City, was a roaring success. More than 1,300 people showed up to hear David Brower, former Bureau of Reclamation chief Dan Beard, and even actor Woody Harrelson attest to the value of draining Lake Powell. A special scientific session featured a number of experts who presented findings on both the viability of restoring Glen Canyon, as well as the importance of addressing restoration needs throughout the Colorado watershed. Endangered species are suffering up and down the basin, and arguments were made for draining Flaming Gorge Dam to help preserve habitat in Dinosaur National Monument, and the need for increased flows downstream to help restore the Colorado's habitat above and around the Sea of Cortez. Additionally, there was a unique set of presentations by artists and nature writers who reinforced the growing importance of utilizing art and literature in capturing the hearts and minds of those interested in the long-term stewardship and restoration of the Colorado. For additional information about the conference or the work of the Glen Canyon Institute contact:


**Elwha Dam, Olympic Peninsula, Washington**

Gorton Legislation further delays Elwha dam removal

Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash), chair of the Interior subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has put language in a spending bill to link removal of the Elwha Dam to Congressional control over what happens to the Snake River dams. He states that, "profound, major policy decisions should not be made by unelected bureaucrats." Though he agreed last year to support spending up to $70 million to remove Elwha Dam by the end of 1999, this latest action means the project will be delayed at least a year.

  • "Gorton stalls Elwha in fight over dams: Senator regrets impact on project for salmon on Olympic Peninsula," The Spokesman-Review, 16 October 1998. Author Dan Hansen can be reached at: )
  • "To save the salmon, an idea to kill the Northwest dams: Fish are vanishing from the Snake and Columbia River Basin. The rescue suggestion has opposition," Inquirer, 23 September 1998. )

**Snake River Dams, Washington (Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, Ice Harbor)**

Removal of four Lower Snake dams deemed best option to restore salmon populations

On the question of how to best restore salmon populations, the scientific debate is now (allegedly) settled. Internationally respected fisheries biologists, commissioned by a group of federal, state and university scientists, produced a 32-page report concluding that removal of the 4 lower Snake River dams would provide a 79 percent chance of restoring chinook populations within 24 to 48 years. Snake River coho salmon went extinct in 1985, and since 1991, the river's sockeye, chinook and steelhead have been listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Now the region must determine if it is willing to pay the social and economic costs of breaching the dams. The Idaho Statesman calculated a net economic gain of $183 million a year. Opposition is focused on the losses, including: 5 percent of the electricity in the Northwest, hundreds of jobs associated with Lewiston and 2 neighboring ports, $117 million in local income from the port, thousands of tons of toilet paper and other paper products from the Potlatch Corp. mill in Lewiston, and cheap transportation for 27 million bushels of locally grown grain.

Furthermore, there is the issue of treaty obligations to 4 regional tribes: the Yakima, the Umatilla, the Nez Perce, and the Warm Springs. 40 million acres were ceded to the US in exchange for, among other things, the permanent right to fish at their "usual and accustomed" fishing sites. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is mentioned as an organization advocating breaching the dams.

  • "Gorton stalls Elwha in fight over dams: Senator regrets impact on project for salmon on Olympic Peninsula," The Spokesman-Review, 16 October 1998. Author Dan Hansen can be reached at:
  • "Need seen for regional consensus on salmon: Absent such an agreement, the federal government will make the decisions, participants at a conference say," The Oregonian, 16 October 1998.
  • "Officials to decide next year if dams will go to save salmon: Advisers call removal of four Snake River dams the most effective way to save threatened fish, a stand opponents criticize," The Oregonian, 13 October 1998.
  • "Salmon recovery has human costs: Groups trying to strike balance among Northwest river issues," The Associated Press, 20 October 1998.
  • "Save the salmon--save the dams," Farm Bureau News, 19 October 1998.
  • "Scientists say dam removal is key: Breaching Snake River dams would create a better chance of saving salmon, four top fisheries biologists agree," The Oregonian, 1 October 1998.

**Savage Rapids Dam, Rogue River, Oregon**

Biologist urges cooperation for dam removal

US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Ron Garst faxed a letter to Legislative Emergency Board members, urging them to "work together for dam removal," and let the fish go downstream instead of taxpayer dollars. Republican Oregon Senate President Brady Adams considers the scientist's action inappropriate because it was written on agency stationery. No disciplinary action was planned against Garst due to the incident. The Board was in the process of reviewing a proposal backed by Adams to spend $450,000 for new fish screens.

  • "Federal fish employee's letter draws fire from Senate president," The Associated Press, 22 September 1998.


**Guadalupe River, San Jose**

Santa Clara Valley Water District launches restoration effort on the Guadalupe

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has launched a $317,140 project to dismantle the fish-killing obstacles that block the Guadalupe in two locations in south-central San Jose and reconfigure the river channel to be more fish-friendly. The barrier removal is a joint project of the water district, the state Department of Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Services, the city of San Jose and the National Heritage Institute. It grew out of a complaint filed against the water district in 1996 by the Guadalupe-Coyote Resource Conservation District, which accused the water district of violating fisheries laws by diverting stream flows. Removal of erosion-control debris is another key factor in restoring fish migration routes. Roger Castillo of Silichip Chinook, a local organization promoting restoration of South Bay waterways, argues that, "This is not a dead river; this is a living organism."

**Trinity River**

Public comment can help restore the Trinity River

In Spring 1999, the Trinity River Mainstem Fishery Restoration Environmental Impact Statement and Report (EIS/EIR) will be released, and the public comment period will begin. Agricultural diversions have damaged the salmon and steelhead runs, and it is crucial that the public demand enough water be restored to revive the river's ecosystem. Currently this is the only river in the country with such an auspicious opportunity. To take advantage of it, visit the web site of the Friends of the Trinity River at for more information.

  • "You Can Help Restore the Trinity River and Its Once Bountiful Fisheries," Action Alert, October 1998.


**Bakerton Dam, Pennsylvania**

Bakerton Dam faces safety issues

77-year-old Bakerton Dam is the main source of drinking water for 400 families who must now ration due to a necessary lowering of the reservoir level. The reservoir was lowered in response to fears that the dam would break. In August 1997, the state ordered the water drained and the dam removed at a cost of $1 million to $2 million. The township refused. "Pennsylvania does not have the money to fix these dams, which certainly puts a strain on the owners," said Donald Martino, chief of the Department of Environmental Protection's dam safety division. Pennsylvania ranks worst in the nation with more than 600 dams rated as a high hazard.

  • "Bakerton Dam among 624 rated as high hazard," Associated Press, 3 August 1998.

**Embrey Dam, Rappahannock River, Virginia**

Removal of sediment increases estimated cost of Embrey dam removal

Embrey Dam was originally built for hydroelectric power, but in recent years it provided a reservoir for city water, when an alternative source of water as found, the dam instantly went from being an asset to a liability. Now everyone seems to agree that 88-year-old Embrey Dam must be removed, however, financing the project, which could cost as much as $7 million, is another matter. One of the major expenses associated with the dam's removal is getting rid of 500,000 cubic yards of sand and silt that have built up behind the dam over the decades. Friends of the Rappahannock, a local river conservation organization, is also pushing for deconstruction.

  • "Crumbling Embrey Dam in Deep Water: Officials, Conservationists Seek Its Removal as the Funding Trickles In," Washington Post, 20 September 1998.


**Everglades, Florida**

Clinton announces restoration plan for the Everglades

President Clinton announced an $8 billion, 20-year plan from the Army Corps of Engineers to restore the fragile ecosystem of the Florida Everglades. An Army Corps of Engineers secretary stated that without dramatic intervention, the Everglades water shortages in South Florida would become so acute by 2050 that the region would be in danger of economic and environmental collapse. The recovery plan includes more than 60 individual projects covering 18,000 square miles.

  • "Clinton Pushes $8 billion Everglades Plan," The Associated Press, 6 October 1998.
  • "Everglades Restoration Plan," GREENLines, 9 October 1998


**Kaniji Dam, Niger River, Nigeria**

Floodwaters wash away villages

According to reports today from the BBC World Service at least 100,000 people in western Nigeria have fled their homes after floodwaters flowed over the top of the Kainji Dam. More than sixty villages have reportedly been "completely washed away." The death toll is unknown.

Kainji Dam, on the Niger River, is one of Africa's biggest dams and holds back the largest reservoir in Nigeria. The dam, which displaced 44,000 people, was built with World Bank funding in the 1960s for hydropower, irrigation, navigation and flood control. The supposed irrigation and navigation benefits of the dam have not been realized (it was reported in 1994, 26 years after the dam was completed, that no barge had ever passed through the dam's massive navigation lock and canal). Hydropower production has been much less than planned as the amount of water in the Niger was overestimated and only eight of the 12 planned turbines were installed.

  • International Rivers Press Advisory, 12 October 1998. For more background on Kainji Dam contact Patrick McCully, Campaigns Director:'

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