No. 57, March 31, 2004

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak

table of contents










Reverence for rivers, water and life demonstrated on March 14

From riverbanks to international development banks, the world was once again flooded with actions publicizing negative impacts of large dams and the need to heal our precious rivers. In honor of the 7th annual International Day of Action for Rivers, Water and Life people around the world mobilized in protest of large dams and in celebration of rivers. Supporters marched, sang, chanted, created art, enjoyed film and participated in various other activities to grant wisdom and call for solidarity. From farmers in Panama to students in South Africa, people of different backgrounds united under a shared vision for the future of indigenous rights, river restoration, sustainable development, water planning and ecological awareness. This year, more than 75 actions from 27 countries mobilized supporters of the Curitiba and Rasi Salai declarations and allowed their messages to be heard. Human chains across Europe and Mesoamerica blocked the destruction of rivers and livelihoods. Groups gathered on bridges, near rivers, and in streets to illustrate their sense of duty to protect our rivers.

If you participated this year, be sure to contact' and let tell us all about your events – we especially need photos, video and audio. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the Day of Action in 2005.

(Lambird, Jill, “Triumphs and tribulations of large dam fights reflected on the Day of Action,” 17 March 2004.)


**Proposed Bujagali dam, Nile River, Uganda**

Battling big dams in Uganda

“ They came into our village with large trucks to take the elderly people and children. We said we wanted to know where we are going, what kind of soils we will have, what will happen to our livestock, our property, our graves. Some said, ‘No, we will not go. So they sent the soldiers and killed some of our people because they did not want to move from the river. Then we all moved—all except our ancestors who are still buried under the water.” This is how Chief Syankusule of the Tonga described the 1957 forced removal of 57,000 of his people to make way for the Kariba Dam. Often built under the guise of bringing electricity to rural communities and irrigating their farmlands, large hydropower projects often merely serve to direct water and energy to wealthy businesses while allowing governments to make sweetheart arrangements with favored corporations. In 2002, Ugandan plaintiffs won a court case against the Ugandan government to release information regarding the financing of the Bujagali dam. The secret terms of the contract called for Uganda to pay US-based energy giant AES, the builder of the dam, $100 million annually for 30 years, regardless of how much electricity was produced. AES dropped out of the project amid scandal and the World Bank is seeking a new partner. International Rivers Network has supported Ugandan activists in their struggles and spearheaded a letter-writing campaign targeting the World Bank.

Visit International Rivers’s Bujagali Campaign at: Bujagali Dam, Uganda.

(Ghoshal, Neela, “Battling Big Dams,” Indypendent, 1 March 2004. Text at:


EU sponsors river restoration in Wales
One year into a three-year program of habitat improvements, Environment Agency Wales, local angling clubs, local conservation interests and landowners continue to collaborate on an initiative to restore river habitats as part of the European Union’s Regional Development Fund funded Fishing Wales project. The goal is to increase the numbers of salmon and trout that our rivers can produce to benefit angling, to other wildlife, and to the local economy. This habitat restoration work will lead to a £5.2m investment in Welsh fisheries before January 2006. The intensification of agriculture over the last century has led to increased pressure on the land, which has led to degradation of river habitats. Where livestock gain unrestricted access to rivers, salmon and trout spawning areas are damaged and riverside vegetation is removed. To prevent such damage and allow riverside vegetation to recover, riverbank fencing is used to create a “buffer strip.” The Agency has provided training for anglers to survey their local rivers and identify sections that need restoration.
( “Fishing Wales Plan to Restore Habitat,” The Western Mail, 9 March 2004.)

us - california

DNA may solve salmon mystery

People who live along Salmon Creek are digging through cluttered attics and garages, looking for stuffed or mounted trophies of long-dead coho salmon so scientists can scrape off some of the scales in search of the fish’s DNA. It sounds like a scene out of ‘Jurassic Park,’ but no one is trying to recreate living coho from the genetic material. The hunt is on because scientists now know salmon evolve differently in different streams. A salmon from the Mendocino County’s Noyo River, for example, may die if introduced into the Russian River. So if coho are ever to be restored to west Sonoma County’s Salmon Creek -- or any other stream or river -- scientists want to make sure the new fish they introduce are genetically similar to ones there originally. DNA research is being conducted on chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead. All three are listed as threatened species. The dream is to create fisheries robust enough to support recreational fishing and to maintain the species’ and nature’s diversity, said Gail Seymour, watershed restoration planner for the state Department of Fish and Game. The research to this point seems to show that the steelhead in the Russian River and the few remaining coho are, in fact, descendents of the fish that swam there before humans arrived. Studies on the chinook are still under way.

(Benfell, Carol, “DNA may solve salmon mystery; Link to the past: Genetic history of Sonoma County population deemed critical for restoration,” The Press Democrat, 9 March 2004. Article located at:

Update: Battle of Battle Creek: Which way to save salmon?

Five years ago, a consensus was reached to resuscitate the salmon runs on Battle Creek: remove five of the eight small PG&E hydropower dams and outfit the remaining three with fish ladders. It was a revolutionary concept in the 150-year history of water development in California; it would mark the first time that dams would come down rather than go up. But today the projected price tag for a Battle Creek restoration has skyrocketed, from $26 million to about $75 million, and not a single dam has been removed. Now a disagreement among environmentalists threatens to further muddy the waters. While one faction wants to proceed with the 5-year-old restoration plan, another wants to start the negotiation process anew, claiming the only sure way to guarantee the revival of the fish is to remove all eight dams. The “winter run” and “spring run” were once thriving subpopulations of the Sacramento River’s remarkably diverse salmon fishery. But these runs were devastated by the construction of Shasta Dam and other water-use projects on the Sacramento. In the late 1990s, the idea of restoring the creek’s fisheries by removing some or all of the dams caught the fancy of Cal-Fed, the joint state and federal agency convened in 1994 to find consensus solutions to California’s water wars.

(Martin, Glen, “Battle of Battle Creek: Which way to save salmon? Environmentalists are split over plan that would remove 5 of 8 small PG&E hydropower dams -- some think it’s not enough,” San Francisco Chronicle, 15 March 2004.)

Update: PacifiCorp seeks relicensing on the Klamath without dam removal or fish passage improvement

PacifiCorp seeks to continue operating most of its Klamath River hydropower project as is, according to an application being filed this week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The company had hundreds of meetings with federal, state and local governments, as well as people from agriculture, upstream and downstream tribes, environmental organizations and communities along the river. Many were disappointed that the removal of dams and improvement of fish passage weren’t included in the application. Glen Spain, spokesman for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, said PacifiCorp hasn’t done all of its homework by not addressing dam removal or salmon passage. ‘Clearly, if those two issues are not dealt with, then the application is deficient,’ he said. Last fall, a panel of scientists with the National Research Council recommended the study of removing the 188-foot-high Iron Gate Dam, the tallest dam in the hydroelectric project and a roadblock to salmon. The Klamath project is only a small part of PacifiCorp’s holdings. “These are not particularly valuable dams, nor are they very important to PacifiCorp’s power project,” Spain said. But they do a lot of damage to the river, he added.

(Dylan, Darling, “Hydro relicensing sought; PacifiCorp wants to keep most Klamath River units operating,” Herald and News, 25 February 2004. Article found on-line at:

Update: San Joaquin River restoration struggles

Environmentalists have accused San Joaquin Valley farmers of secretly using taxpayer money for a study to bolster agriculture’s argument against restoring the San Joaquin River. The accusation coincides with the airing tonight of a taxpayer-funded river film that farmers criticize as biased against agriculture. Farmers also claim environmentalists wrongly used the film, “Tales of the San Joaquin -- A River Journey,” to raise money for their costs in a lawsuit over the river. Some members of Congress have called for an investigation of the $300,000 film. Now the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is pushing a long-running lawsuit to restore the river, says agriculture is inappropriately using $300,000 of taxpayer money on a study for its legal defense. “You can’t separate this use of public money from their argument in the lawsuit,” said NRDC lawyer Jared Huffman. “It’s cited in their legal arguments. And nobody knew about this study for months.” The San Joaquin was dammed in the 1940s, and the river’s water saved Valley agriculture from economic ruin. But in their lawsuit, environmentalists say Friant Dam at Millerton Lake dried up two sections of the river, destroying a chinook salmon run and contributing to downstream water-quality problems.

(Grossi, Mark, “Farmers accused of using study for fight, ‘Taxpayer money used to argue against restoring river,’ accusers say,” The Fresno Bee, 11 March 2004.)

**San Clemente Dam, Carmel River, CA**

Update: Dam removal effort aims at helping steelhead

In the deep oak forests above Carmel Valley, just upstream from postcard ocean views of the Monterey Peninsula, dozens of muscular, silvery fish are struggling relentlessly upstream to spawn. As they have for thousands of years, steelhead trout are returning to the Carmel River from the Pacific Ocean. Soon, however, their journey could change considerably. Scientists, environmental groups and water officials are trying to determine whether they can tear down the fishes’ main obstacle. For the past 83 years, the 107-foot-tall San Clemente Dam has blocked steelhead from returning smoothly to the upper Carmel River. The challenge: how to help the fish they are seeking to rescue from the Endangered Species List, without accidentally killing them in the process. The smooth concrete of San Clemente Dam once stored drinking water for thousands around Monterey. But today its reservoir is almost entirely choked with sediment. It holds less than 10 percent of its original water capacity. Nor does the dam provide electricity or flood protection. State inspectors declared it unsafe in 1986, at risk of collapse in a major earthquake, and ordered it fixed. If the dam were torn down, it would be the largest dam ever removed in California.

(Rogers, Paul, “Dam removal effort aims at helping steelhead; San Clemente dam on the Carmel river no longer serves its purpose, but tearing it down presents engineering challenges,” San Jose Mercury News, 3 March 2004.)

us - northwest

Kerry vows to name salmon czar

If elected President of the United States, Senator John Kerry would appoint a salmon czar who would answer directly to him and his vice president. Unfortunately, neither he nor his chief opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John Edwards, are willing to support studies of breaching four dams on the Snake River to aid the fish. Kerry criticized the Bush Administration’s lack of funding for the region’s salmon recovery plan. But like President George Bush, he said he is not ready to consider removing four dams on the Snake River in Washington that salmon advocates and most fisheries’ biologists say is necessary to restore healthy populations in Idaho. “Before we engage in a polarizing debate about dam removal, we should work to restore and improve the salmon’s habitat in the watersheds throughout the Columbia and Snake River Basins,” he said. Roger Singer, Idaho director of the Sierra Club, a national environmental group, said either candidate would do more for salmon than President Bush. Singer said he hopes they will keep an open mind on the dams.

(Barker, Rocky, “Kerry vows to name salmon czar; Democrats offer takes on issues of Idaho interest,” The Idaho Statesman, 22 February 2004.)

Governor Kulongoski pushing for cleanup of Willamette

The Willamette River was once the crown jewel of Oregon, but today the mighty river that has been dredged for more than a hundred years and choked by decades of pollution is one of the West’s dirtiest rivers. However, this past week the Governor pledged to clean it up. “I don’t just mean parts of the river, I mean the entire river from the headwaters east of Eugene all the way to the Columbia,” he said. Travis Williams, head of the Willamette Riverkeeper, says the clean-up is not going to be as easy as it used to be because single sources of pollution are not the problem they once were. “I think a lot of folks get the notion of cleaning up the Willamette and they think of those obvious things such as sewer spills or contaminated sites, but there is also habitat restoration and improvement that I think often does not get enough attention,” he said. Even so, Governor Kulongoski says he already has commitments of some $13 million in federal funds to help clean up one of the most polluted sites in the Portland Harbor.

(KATU News, “Governor Kulongoski pushing for cleanup of Willamette,” 8 March 2004.)

Update: Undisclosed oral understanding reached on Milltown

State and federal negotiators have reached an oral understanding with NorthWestern Corp. regarding its obligations at the Milltown Reservoir Superfund site. In a statement filed with the US Bankruptcy Court, NorthWestern promised to provide an agreement summary within 30 days, and said only that the understanding covered “economic and certain other terms.” Last year, the state of Montana and US Environmental Protection Agency filed objections, insisting that the company cannot limit its liability through a $10 million agreement with Atlantic Richfield Co. The Arco-NorthWestern agreement was filed shortly after the utility sought Chapter 11 protection; NorthWestern claimed the deal resolved its liability for the Milltown cleanup. Arco is primarily responsible for the Milltown Superfund site because of its 1978 merger with Anaconda Copper Co. The reservoir is polluted with tailings washed downstream from the company’s mines and smelters. But the government believes NorthWestern has some responsibility for the cleanup and restoration because of its ownership of Milltown Dam - which halted the tailings’ downstream migration. The EPA has estimated the Milltown cleanup (including the dam’s removal) will cost $100 million, while the subsequent restoration could add another $38 million to the total.

(Devlin, Sherry, “Utility agrees to cleanup obligations; Negotiators, NorthWestern have oral understanding,” Missoulian, 24 February 2004.)

us - midwest

Positive response to fish kill disaster on the White River

A recent legal settlement with Crown Environment, an Ohio company that played a role in the 1999 White River fish kill, largely ends the litigation phase of one of the worst environmental disasters in Indiana history. For anyone who saw the 50-mile plume of more than 5 million fish killed by an illegal chemical discharge, it is hard to believe anything good could ever come from such a tragedy. But environmental officials and those living along the river say that, in most respects, White River is in better shape than ever. New environmental laws stiffen fines for polluters and require quicker reporting of spills. Cleanup efforts have removed tons of debris and massive fish restocking efforts are paying off. $6 million in legal settlement money is being used for river restoration, and, most of all, there is greater public awareness about the value of the river and its watershed. People pay more attention to the river. It took near destruction of this wonderful natural resource for those living and working along it to become aware of the river’s value.

(, editorial, “Positive results of fish kill disaster,” The Indianapolis Star, 6 March 2004.)

us - northeast

State approves Hudson River cleanup

Massive tunnels will be dug out beneath the Hudson River as part of a $65 million PCB cleanup plan approved by state environmental officials. The plan for cleaning up the old General Electric manufacturing site also includes expansion of an onsite wastewater treatment plant, building demolition and the treatment or removal of soil contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls. The state Department of Environmental Conservation plan is separate from the massive Hudson River PCB-dredging project the federal Environmental Protection Agency intends to begin in 2006. Key to the cleanup is the construction of tunnels 60 feet beneath the riverbed to drain away contaminated groundwater in the bedrock that might otherwise leak into the river. The contaminated groundwater will then be treated. The 1,850-foot tunnels will form a giant ‘X’ underground and will be large enough to accommodate a railroad car, according to GE. GE used PCBs at the facility until 1977, when the chemicals linked to cancer in laboratory animals were banned. Environmentalists, including Rich Schiafo of Scenic Hudson, have clashed with GE over how to clean the Hudson, but have supported this plan as important for the river’s recovery. State Environmental Commissioner Erin Crotty called the project a milestone in the state’s effort to restore the Hudson River.

(Hill, Michael, “State approves Hudson River cleanup,”, 16 March 2004.)

Coldwater Heritage Partnership Announces 2004 Grant Awards

The Coldwater Heritage Partnership, a cooperative effort involving the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Trout and the Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program, announced $42,400 in grants to local organizations to protect and conserve Pennsylvania’s coldwater stream habitats. “Not only does this work have conservation value, but it also helps to ensure the success of an important segment of the outdoor recreation industry,” DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis said. “This partnership provides the much needed funding to continue the long-term stewardship of our world-class coldwater streams,” said Dr. Doug Austen, PFBC Executive Director.

(Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “Coldwater Heritage Partnership Announces 2004 Grant Awards,” PR Newswire, 1 March 2004.)

Update: Visionary Penobscot River restoration

An unprecedented collaborative has agreed on a novel reconfiguration of dams on the Penobscot, Maine’s largest river. These changes--including removal of some dams and power increase at others--will restore the balance between power generation and the environment on the river. They will also result in improved access to more than 500 miles of habitat for 11 species of sea-run fish, including the endangered Atlantic salmon. This project is considered the last best hope for their recovery from the brink of extinction. At the same time, the project will give the power company - PPL Corporation - the opportunity to maintain more than 90% of its current hydropower generation. This project will restore native fish, renew cultural and recreational traditions, bolster economic opportunities for tourism, business and communities, and revive the health of the river for other wildlife. Partners in the Penobscot River Restoration Project include: Penobscot Indian Nation, U.S. Department of Interior, State of Maine, PPL Corporation, American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Trout Unlimited.

For more information, visit the Penobscot River Restoration Project at:

(Coastal Mountains Land Trust, “Visionary Penobscot River restoration topic of March 11 talk,”
Belfast Village Soup, 6 March 2004.)

us - southeast

**Dillsboro Dam, Tuckasegee River, NC**

Proposal to remove Dillsboro Dam

Duke Power’s proposal to remove the Dillsboro Dam is far from a done deal, according to officials with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who visited the region last week in conjunction with Duke’s relicensing process. “We don’t pull out dams very quickly,” said Ed Abrams, a representative with FERC. According to Duke officials, the 12-foot-high Dillsboro Dam provides very little power and is not economically viable. Removing it is the centerpiece of an environmental mitigation package. Duke operates 11 dams on five rivers in as many counties in Western North Carolina, and has offered to compensate for the negative impacts of its other dams and pipelines in the region. Permits to operate the 11 dams expire over the next two years. To get new permits, Duke is required to provide recreational and environmental compensation over the 30- to 40-year life of the new permits. Representatives with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources have agreed to waive other environmental mitigation in exchange for removing the dam.

(Johnson, Becky, “Feds begin review of Duke’s dams; Proposal to remove Dillsboro Damn dominates discussions,” Smokey Mountain News, 18 February 2004.)

Protecting mussels may preserve quality of Florida’s rivers

The Center for Biological Diversity will file a federal lawsuit to force federal officials to protect mussels in the Ochlockonee River and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. “Actions which protect and restore the natural rivers and water quality -- those are the actions that are going to benefit the species,” said CBD attorney Sidney Maddock. Dams, poor water quality and water consumption by cities and industries are among the threats facing the mussels, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The lawsuit was filed against the agency to force it to designate ‘critical habitat’ for seven endangered and threatened mussel species. The designation would require the agency to identify specific threats to the mussels and specific actions that can be taken to protect them, Maddock said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year released a draft plan for protecting the seven species. Some Florida environmentalists are hoping the lawsuit could help efforts that are under way now to protect the rivers.

(Ritchie Bruce, “Protecting Mussels May Preserve Quality of Florida’s Rivers,” Tallahassee Democrat, 16 March 17, 2004.)

** Embrey Dam, Rappahannock River, VA**

Update: Embrey Dam breached: Rappahannock River runs free after 150 years

The breaching of Embrey Dam has restored the 184-mile-long Rappahannock to its full length and, for the first time in 150 years, will allow American and hickory shad, herring and other migratory fish to return upriver to spawn. ‘These are taxpayers’ dollars well-spent,’ Virginia’s senior Republican senator John W. Warner said. Warner, who first fished the Rappahannock at age 7 with an uncle, said he was particularly moved by the river’s restoration. Embrey is the largest dam to be demolished in the United States since 1999, when the 24-foot-tall Edwards Dam was removed from Maine’s Kennebec River. Yesterday’s event capped two decades of work by environmentalists and others to remove the 22-foot-high concrete dam, which spans 770 feet across the river. ‘Today, the river runs free,’ said John Tippett, executive director of Friends of the Rappahannock, the local conservation group instrumental in the effort. The breach restored 106 miles of spawning habitat on the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers. Adding smaller tributaries, about 700 miles of spawning grounds were reopened. Shad, like salmon, spend most of their adult lives in the ocean but return to the fresh waters of their origin to spawn. The dam’s removal is the last major hurdle toward Chesapeake Bay Program partners meeting their decade-old fish-passage goal of restoring 1,357 miles by the end of this year.

(Dennen, Rusty, “Dam pierced, now what?” The Free Lance-Star, 25 February 2004.)

(Krishnamurthy, Kiran, “Today, the river runs free; Embrey Dam is blown up to let migratory fish swim up the Rappahannock,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 24 February 2004.)