No. 59, June 23, 2004

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Wil Dvorak

table of contents










south korea

Seoul Goes Green; Uncovers and Restores Historic Streams

Nearing its completion date in 2005, the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project was initiated under Seoul Mayor Lee Myung–bak to create a more environmentally friendly city. The project entails reopening the numerous streams that flow through the city and creating pedestrian–friendly zones. Cheonggyecheon, which means "open stream" in Korean, described the urban stream that once flowed throughout Seoul. The strategic location of water and the surrounding protective mountains on each side of the city made it an ideal location for Korea’s political, cultural and social center of activity. Under the Japanese occupation, part of Cheonggyecheon was covered to ease the sanitation problems. After it was discovered that the covered streams posed a threat to the safety of Seoul’s citizens, for gases remained trapped underground, Mayor Lee decided the time was right to uncover a portion of Seoul’s natural past. By the end of this year, a 5.39–kilometer section of the stream will be reopened.

(Moon, Iris, "Seoul’s future bright, eco–friendly, full of innovation," The Korea Herald, 26 May 2004.)


Long Live the Ebro River

Visca l‘Ebre! (Long live the Ebro!): The Ebro Delta celebrates! (Ebro water transfer is abolished). Thousands of people converged on the Ebro Delta in Catalonia for a three–day "fiesta" from June 18–20 to pay homage to three and a half years of campaigning against the Ebro water transfer proposed by the ex–Spanish government in its National Hydrological Plan. We will also be celebrating the fact that the new government has finally abolished this water transfer as promised and has proposed other alternatives for the water "problems" in the south of Spain. The three days included celebration and homage, but work including sessions with many top scientists and water experts of Spain (for example, Professor Arrojo, Goldman Prize 2003 winner), NGOs and other social movements. Three years of mass popular uprising, with demonstrations in Madrid, Barcelona, even Brussels, led to this gathering, and activists sought to plant a seed for the future of the movement, including implementation of the so–called New Water Culture and the protection of Mediterranean rivers.

For more information, visit European Rivers Network at

united – kingdom

UK River Restoration Centre

The River Restoration Centre of the United Kingdom is a national information and advisory centre on all aspects of river restoration and enhancement, and sustainable river management The Centre provides a focal point for the exchange of information and expertise relating to river restoration and enhancement in the UK Their primary role is to disseminate information on river restoration and enhancement projects and to provide advice on site–specific technical issues through a network of experienced river restoration practitioners. The River Restoration Centre offers technical advice and information on specific projects as well as general river restoration related advice. Queries on all aspects of river management are dealt with through the Centre staff and their network of advisors who have a wealth of practical experience in river engineering, hydrology, geomorphology, ecology and river management.

For more information, visit:

us – california

Woodbridge Dam, Mokelumne River, CA

Restoration Project Gives Mokelumne Ecosystem a Boost

Fish got to swim, birds got to fly. And salmon got to climb. Life hasn’t been a song for the Mokelumne River’s population of Chinook salmon, whose migratory upstream journeys have been further complicated by man–made variations on water flow. Adult salmon, traveling from the sea waters of the Bay Area to the Mokelumne riverbeds where they were spawned, have for years been impeded by outdated fish ladders at the century–old Woodbridge Dam. This prompted the Woodbridge Irrigation District, which owns 96 acres of land near the river, to construct an $8.9 million dam and fish ladder system on the site of the old Woodbridge Dam. The reconstruction of the dam is only a fraction of a $32.3 million effort to restore the quality of the Lower Mokelumne River and the ecosystem it supports. The program includes fish screens and a 2,000–foot pipeline that will allow fish to bypass the dam completely. Original restoration suggestions included building new fish ladders and the complete removal of the dam.

(Cardine, Sara, "Woodbridge Dam project gives Mokelumne ecosystem a boost,", 24 May 2004.)

Los Angeles To Submit Final Environmental Report On Owens River Restoration

Looking out from the banks of the river that once ran through this rugged valley beside the Sierra Nevada range, Mike Prather sees only an ugly heap of stumps, weeds and dried mud. The water is long gone. It has been that way for nearly a century, ever since Los Angeles began quenching its insatiable thirst by buying up nearly all the land and building what some folks here still bitterly call "the big straw," the 233–mile aqueduct that swiped the local water supply and gave the metropolis its life. The Owens River was the first casualty of that monumental engineering feat, sucked dry and all but left for dead. Until now. Prather, a retired science teacher and environmental activist in the Owens Valley, no longer comes to the river to lament its loss. He comes to savor a remarkable new plot twist in the ceaseless water wars of the West: Los Angeles soon may have no choice but to restore the river’s old flow. Water could be returned to the Owens River next year, but a few technicalities still have to be resolved, and lingering tensions over them could become deal breakers. Los Angeles has until the end of June to submit a final environmental report on the river renewal to a court.

(Sanchez, Rene, "Quenching the thirst of a century: Los Angeles may restore river it diverted years ago,", 01 June 2004.)

us – northwest

Bush Administration Spurns Science and Sacrifices Wild Salmon Again

The Bonneville Power Administration, an agency of the Bush administration, released a revised proposal in early June to eliminate large portions of the salmon spill program in August. Spill, a required action of the current federal plan to recover endangered salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers, is widely considered by scientists to be the safest means of getting young ocean–bound salmon past the dams. "Another week, another administration salmon policy that hurts the Northwest," said Pat Ford, executive director, Save Our Wild Salmon. "Slashing summer spill spurns the unanimous scientific advice of Northwest fishery agencies and Indian Tribes and continues a three year pattern of failure of this administration to implement its own salmon plan." "This is a scientifically irresponsible and indefensible decision," said Jim Martin, former chief of fisheries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and current member, National Wildlife Federation Board of Directors. "In this year of low water flows and high river temperatures, salmon need spill more than ever." The amended spill proposal would leave young ocean–bound salmon (both listed and unlisted) at greater risk of dying from dam turbines, predators or other factors.

For more information, visit:

(Save Our Wild Salmon, "Bush Admin. Spurns Science and Sacrifices Wild Salmon Again; Amended Spill Proposal Harms Salmon but Barely Benefits Ratepayers," Common Dreams News Center, 8 June 2004.)

Soda Springs Dam, North Umpqua River, OR

Update: Oregon Groups Challenge Soda Springs Relicensing

In trying to bring about the demolition of the Soda Springs Dam on the North Umpqua River, conservation groups are challenging the dam’s recently renewed federal hydropower license. A lawsuit filed in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco alleges that the US Forest Service illegally ignored the advice of its scientists when it signed off on the dam’s operating license. Earthjustice and other groups said the agency failed to provide adequate measures to protect habitat for salmon and other fish. During the relicensing debate, the Forest Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service at first recommended removal of Soda Springs Dam to restore what were once prime spawning areas for salmon, steelhead and cutthrout trout. PacifiCorp, a unit of Scottish Power, negotiated to keep the dam in place by agreeing to build a fish ladder, maintain river flows and provide habitat improvements. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November issued a 35–year license for the complex of dams including Soda Springs. Opponents –– including the Umpqua Valley Audubon Society, Umpqua Watersheds and a sport fishing group called Steamboaters –– asked regulators for a rehearing on the license but were rejected in March.

(Rojas–Burke, Joe, "Groups challenge dam regimenting,", 25 May 2004.)

us – southwest

Glen Canyon Dam, Colorado River, AZ

Scientists Say Warnings Of Grand Canyon Troubles Going Unheard

It’s hard to detect anything wrong in the Grand Canyon while floating through it. On a recent spring morning, the Colorado River was cool and calm. Trout leapt, splashing back into the river with a thick plop. Stands of salt cedar lined the banks, offering shade from desert heat. But all is not well in this crown jewel of the US park system. The salt cedar and trout are invaders, part of a wave of alien fish and plants. Native species are disappearing, beaches are washing away, and once–buried Indian archeological sites are eroding into the river. Since Glen Canyon Dam altered the landscape so dramatically, nearly $200 million has been spent assessing the dam’s impact on Grand Canyon and exploring what can be done to heal it. An ambitious experiment is under way to see whether this root cause of many of the problems can help fix them. Operators have unleashed floods, pulses of water and even a simulated summer drought to see how the environment responds. Now in its eighth year, the recovery program is in trouble. A team of government scientists say Grand Canyon’s ecosystem is continuing to deteriorate, and the goal of restoring it may fail unless drastic actions are taken.

For more information, visit:, or

(Hettena, Seth, "Scientists warn Grand Canyon in trouble,", 24 May 2004.)

Endangered Species Act Under Attack In New Mexico

200 people attended a hearing in Carlsbad focused on the Endangered Species Act’s impact on the economy, agriculture, oil and gas industry and local government. Representatives from the agriculture community, the city of Carlsbad, the Carlsbad Irrigation District, and the state Department of Energy and Minerals testified at the hearing. While they came from a variety of backgrounds, the majority of those who testified agreed that immediate action must be taken to revise the act. Alisa Ogden, a farmer and rancher, told the committee, chaired by Representative Richard Pombo, R–California, that the Endangered Species Act, in theory, has its place in the attempt to keep a variety of species from extinction. However, it has impacted humans more, she said. "In reality, it has become our worst nightmare," she testified. "The human factor has been ignored in the decision–making process. Jeff Harvard, president of Harvard Petroleum and former president of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, said the act has a large negative impact on the oil and gas industry. Harvard said the act is a failure that has not saved a single species, and it is in need of immediate change before it does any more "mischief."

(Davis, Stella, "Federal law hurts industries, panel told," Carlsbad Current–Argus, 7 June 2004.)

Can We Restore Wetlands and Leave the Mosquitoes Out?

Restoring wetlands has a foreseeable and inevitable downside: the creation of mosquito habitat. Breeding disease–transmitting mosquitoes isn’t just a surprising side effect, but an inevitable and foreseeable consequence of creating or restoring wetlands that must be acknowledged in the planning process, said Elizabeth Willott, an assistant professor in the department of entomology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Wetlands have benefits for people, she said, "Wetlands clean water, help in flood control, provide habitat and have aesthetic value." Even so, she said that ethics require considering the potential increase of people’s exposure to mosquito–borne diseases. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria, encephalitis and West Nile virus, can be just one bite away. "Several obstacles block people from frankly discussing mosquito problems," writes Willott in her paper "Restoring Nature, Without Mosquitoes?" The article appears in the June issue of Restoration Ecology.

(University of Arizona, "Can We Restore Wetlands and Leave the Mosquitoes Out?" Science News, 26 May 2004. Article found at:

us – midwest

Beetlemania: Restoration On the Grand Calumet River

The Grand Calumet watershed restoration project affects a five–mile stretch of the river in Gary, from its headwaters in the Marquette Park lagoons to a point near the Gary Sanitary District’s treatment plant. First, nearly a century’s worth of contamination from US Steel’s Gary Works had to be cleaned from the river. A yearlong, $50.9 million dredging project ended in December which took 788,000 cubic yards of mud from the river. Plans for restoration are expected to start this year and include making the river more hospitable for fish, beautifying the river banks and encouraging native plants to grow again in wetlands along the river. The project to rid purple loosestrife plants from the Grand Calumet is part of the clean–up and restoration program that US Steel took on in 1998 to settle long–standing environmental complaints. Restoring native plant life means eradicating purple loosestrife from four sites along the river. When the school–raised beetles are released along the Grand Calumet this summer, they will feed exclusively on purple loosestrife – a pretty, but prolific species of plant invader native to Europe. Some wildlife in the wetlands are now at risk due to an overgrowth of purple loosestrife.

Learn more about restoration of the Harpeth River by visiting the HRWA at:

(Zorn, Tim, "Beetlemania � Hungry insects will target weedy plant,"–, 8 June 2004.)

Pending Restoration Of Historic Spring Lake Bottoms Wetlands

Somewhere in Illinois a developer has finagled a permit to pave over a "swamp." Somewhere a farmer has decided to install tile and drain that "darned wet spot" once and for all. So it’s encouraging to note that in at least one place last week, folks celebrated the creation of wetlands. Thanks to a cooperative effort between Ducks Unlimited and various government agencies, 411 acres will soon feature some semblance of the wetlands that occupied this Illinois River backwater prior to the levee–building boom of the early 1900s. Before they were sealed off from the river, drained and plowed under, the duck–drawing marshes of Spring Lake Hunting and Fishing Club also attracted presidents Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. While George Bush might not stop by this fall, when the $500,000 restoration should be completed, waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland–loving critters will visit. "We’re trying to restore as many different wetland habitats as would have occurred on this ground," said Eric Schenck, a biologist who deserves much of the credit for this project. Ground that just a few years ago produced a mono–culture of corn or beans will before long grow pecans, pin oaks and a host of aquatic plants – many whose seeds are believed to be sitting dormant in the soil, waiting only to be inundated.

(Lampe, Jeff , "Restoration of Illinois wetlands anything but all wet,", 8 June 2004.)

Changes On the Cuyahoga

Brown water of the Cuyahoga River tumbles through a new 40–foot–wide channel on the east side of the Kent Dam. Gone is the stagnant, algae–filled pool behind the dam. The river is narrower now, with attractive habitats for fish and aquatic insects. Change has come to the Cuyahoga – infamous for being so polluted that it caught fire in 1969 – and more is on the way. Workers are improving the now–exposed stream banks and continuing to alter the dam, creating a pump house, a man–made waterfall and a new city park. "What’s happening," said Kent city manager Lewis Steinbrecher, "really bodes well for the river in the long run." The $3.8 million Kent Dam work is one of five major Cuyahoga River projects either under way or in the planning stage. "It’s a lot of things converging and all coming together at one time," said Elaine Marsh of the grassroots group Friends of the Crooked River. "The state is being active, and money is available, and exciting things are happening." The Ohio EPA is eyeing the removal of an even bigger Ohio Edison dam on the Cuyahoga in Summit County. The EPA’s policy is that dams – even those as big as the Edison dam – can be ordered removed to improve water quality.

For more information, visit Friends of the Crooked River at: (Downing, Bob, "Changes on Cuyahoga; Ohio EPA push to clean up river helps spur rush of projects, proposals to remove or alter 4 dams," The Beacon Journal, 16 June 2004.)

us – northeast

West Henniker Dam, Contoocook River, NH

West Henniker Dam Breaching

All are cordially invited to witness the initial breaching of the West Henniker Dam in Henniker, New Hampshire on Tuesday, June 29 at 10:00am. The removal of this 10–foot high, 130–foot long concrete dam will restore the Contoocook River and eliminate a public safety hazard. Fifteen miles of river will be re–connected through the project, enhancing paddling opportunities and restoring riverine habitat to benefit sportfish and other species. There will be representatives from New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Town of Henniker, the Henniker Historical Society, and other involved parties speaking at the ceremony.

For more information, contact: Stephanie Lindloff, NH Department of Environmental Services at 603.271.8870

Mill River Dam, Mill River, CT

Army Corps Of Engineers Urges Removal Of the Mill River Dam

The US Army Corps of Engineers is recommending the removal of the historic Mill River Dam and the walls of Mill Pond as part of a plan to restore the river. The project would include restoration of the stream and banks of river. The corps studied three other options, including only maintenance and dredging of the pond. The dam’s removal will allow fish, including alewives and blueback herring, to go more than four miles farther upriver to spawn. It will reduce the flooding risk in downtown Stamford by lowering the water level, said Adam Burnett, project manager for the corps. A fish ladder would not allow as many fish, or as many species, to reach the upper reaches of the river, he said. Bill Shadel, former director of research and restoration at Save the Sound, said removing the dam would be better for fish and other wildlife than the fish ladder proposed earlier. "We get a fuller restoration over a much broader array of species by removing the dam," Burnett said.

For more information, visit: (Porter, Louis, "Army Corps of Engineers urges removal of the Mill River Dam," The Advocate, 19 May 2004. Full text found at:

Detters Mill Dam, Conewago Creek, PA

End Of Dangerous Dam

Many low–head dams on the east coast of the US were built to power mills for industry a hundred or more years ago. Now, they often merely block fish migration and create currents that can be dangerous to boaters and swimmers. Thirteen dams on Conewago Creek have been removed since 1913. Detters Mill will make 14. In Pennsylvania, there are at least 2,000 low–head dams. When state environmental officials can’t locate the owners of these structures – as in the case of Detters Mill – they generally destroy the dam. The state is working to remove eight of these "orphan" dams. Detters Mill Dam was built in 1852 to power a mill, according to state records. It spans 200 feet and rises seven–feet high, creating a pool nearly two miles long. The $24,500 cost of removal will be paid by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and American Rivers, an advocacy group. For years, people have fished and swum near Detters Mill, and at one point a group fought without success to keep the dam in place. In 1994 Joe Keller died in York Hospital, four days after saving a friend near another low–head dam, Orts Mill, on the same creek. Low–head dams block the natural movement of American shad, who can’t jump, so even small blockages keep them from returning home.

(Nejman, Jennifer, "End of a dangerous dam; Detters Mill Dam slated for removal this month," York Daily Record, 8 June 2004.)

Birch Run Dam, Conococheague Creek, PA

Water Permit Contingent On Birch Run Dam Removal

A new Pennsylvania state water permit will ensure an adequate water supply for Chambersburg through 2030, but as part of the price for that permit, Birch Run Dam will be destroyed next year. The 70–year–old dam, which has been leaking for the past several years, is number one on the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s list of unsafe dams, according to borough officials. "Birch Run must go. It’s as clear as that," said Borough Manager Eric Oyer. "We must move forward so that it gets done in 2005." With water considered an ever more precious resource, Borough Council has been reluctant to agree to breach the dam. Birch Run Reservoir holds about 387 million gallons of water, supplementing Long Pine Run Reservoir, which holds 1.8 billion gallons. But the state is giving the borough no choice –– no breach of Birch Run, no water allocation permit, according to officials. "The pressure’s on," Oyer said. "The dam is on the top of their list, in terms of unsafe structures."

(Mentzer, Cathy, "Birch Run Dam goes or no water permit,", 15 June 2004.)

us – southeast

Loxahatchee Restoration Moves Forward

The South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) are working together to implement the Loxahatchee River Restoration Plan. The Northwest Fork project, which includes the area designated as "Wild and Scenic" must entail a careful balance of restoration and preservation along the 7.6 mile stretch. "Things are in the works, and everyone needs to come together for a common purpose," said David Brown, Jupiter’s Water Utilities Director and the chairman of the Loxahatchee River Restoration Initiative, a group of 13 governmental agencies and environmental interest groups focused on obtaining funding for some of the river’s restoration projects. "There is a fine balance that is part of this restoration plan." As part of the commitment, the agencies will undertake a pilot program to see if a salinity barrier – an inflatable bladder that would lie on the bottom of the river, and could be inflated when necessary – would help the salinity encroachment during the dry season. One of the challenges with a salinity barrier is that it has to allow for the navigational and recreational aspects of the river as well as the natural resources, such as the movement of the manatees.

(Bradshaw, Kit, "Too much salt in the Loxahatchee’s wounds? How to achieve crucial salinity levels are among remaining questions as Loxahatchee restoration moves forward," Jupiter Courier, 19 May 2004.)

Update: Florida Officials Celebrate Success Of Kissimmee River Restoration

On a former cow pasture near this meandering river, a flock of white ibis take off from a now grassy marsh filled with native plants like button bush and maiden cane. The dramatic change in landscape from a dry pasture to a thriving wetland leading into the Kissimmee River comes after two decades of restoration efforts to reverse the consequences of a 1960s flood protection project. To reverse the damage, state and federal officials began filling in the 56–mile drainage canal, restoring the original flood plains and the natural flow of the winding river. In the 11,000 acres of wetlands already restored, birds and ducks are returning in unexpected numbers. Along 15 miles of restored river, barren shorelines are thriving with native plants and wildlife, including the occasional alligator. The surrounding lands that were drained have become marshes full of the same bulrush grasses, button bushes and willow trees that existed before channels were cut into the Kissimmee and surrounding wetlands.

(Picayune Item, "Florida officials celebrate success of Kissimmee River restoration," 19 May 2004.)

Embrey Dam, Rappahannock River, VA

Update: American Shad Found Upstream From Breached Embrey Dam

An American shad was found upstream of a recently breached dam on the Rappahannock River, indicating that the species is returning to its historic spawning habitat, state game officials announced in May. The female shad, weighing about 2.5 pounds and 20 inches long, still bore eggs, said Alan Weaver, fish passage coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Weaver said he was "not surprised but excited" to see the fish beyond the dam. "Just in this first year, we’re seeing them use this historical habitat," he said. Officials caught and released the fish last week on the Rappahannock at Motts Run in Spotsylvania County, about 5 miles upriver from the Embrey Dam. Officials have also found hickory shad, striped bass and blueback herring upriver from the dam. Built in 1910, the Embrey was breached with explosives in February. The blast marked the first phase of the dam’s removal, which is slated for completion in early 2006. The dam, which had outlived its usefulness generating hydroelectricity and pooling drinking water, was considered a liability. It also barred shad and other migratory fish from their natural spawning grounds upriver.

(Krishnamurthy, Kiran, "American shad found beyond breached dam," Richmond Times–Dispatch, 21 May 2004.)