No. 61, August 31, 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









World Bank finally debars Acres, convicted of bribing in Lesotho

On July 23, the World Bank announced that it would debar from further Bank contracts the Canadian firm Acres International for 3 years. The company had been convicted of bribing the head of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) in September 2002. Says Korinna Horta of the US–based group Environmental Defense, "This long overdue action on Acres is very much welcome, and hopefully signals a more forceful World Bank approach to corruption on its projects. "Lori Pottinger of International Rivers adds, "We applaud the Lesotho government for pursuing this case against all odds, and for shining a bright light on the corruption–riddled large–dam industry." The estimated US$8 billion LHWP is designed to divert water from the Orange River to the urban and industrial Gauteng region in South Africa through a series of dams and tunnels blasted through the mountains.

("World Bank Finally Debars Company Convicted of Bribing in Lesotho,"

us – general

US Fish and Wildlife Service and partners to remove 91 fish barriers in 26 states

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the agency’s partners will pool $4.8 million in 2004 to remove 91 barriers to fish passage in 26 states. Service funds for the popular Fish Passage Program, amounting to $2.8 million, will be supplemented by another $2 million in matching funds from a wide array of partners ranging from civic and conservation organizations, local and State governments and other Federal agencies. "Since 2001, the Fish Passage Program has removed 158 barriers across the country," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "The Service, working with local communities and partner agencies, is using a voluntary, non–regulatory approach to restore natural flows and fish migration. Rivers are running their natural course, habitat has been restored, and the fish are coming back." Many of the small dams targeted for removal date as far back as the American and Industrial Revolutions. Those dams were built either to accommodate early barge traffic or to provide power or irrigation for a young country. As times changed, many of the dams were abandoned but remained in place, serving only to block populations of fish and contributing to their gradual decline. Completion of the 2004 projects will open 19,364 acres and more than 3,048 miles of waterways for fish, contributing to larger populations and more recreational fishing opportunities.

(US Fish and Wildlife Service, "USFWS, partners to remove fish barriers; $4.8 million pooled to remove 91 fish passage barriers in 26 states," 11 August 2004.)

us – california

Klamath River dams, Klamath River, CA

Update: Klamath River tribes get Scottish Power to put dam removal back on the table

The chief executive officer of PacifiCorp’s parent company, Scottish Power, vowed he will do more to get salmon up the Klamath River, reported a delegation including Klamath, Karuk, Hoopa and Yurok tribe members that traveled to Scotland in July. "He said dam removal is back on the table," said Jeff Mitchell, representing both the Klamath Tribes and the Klamath Intertribal Fish and Water Commission. Officials from the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and Friends of the River also attended the stockholder meeting due to dissatisfaction with how PacifiCorp was handling salmon passage in its application for a new 50–year hydroelectric dam license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A motion by Scottish Legislator Robin Harper said parliament "regards Scottish Power’s failure to include salmon restoration strategies in its future plans as a failure and calls on Scottish Power to lead the way in taking active measures to reverse the decline in salmon numbers in what was once America’s third greatest salmon river." The tribes sang, drummed and had a salmon bake during a four–hour demonstration outside the stockholder meeting. Inside, Mitchell and Leaf Hillman, vice chairman of the Karuk Tribe, made powerful presentations before the stockholders. As one shareholder said, "I was shattered when I learned what has happened to you." Other shareholders expressed similar emotions, and there were a few in tears. The tribes might also return to Europe to meet with others, such as human rights committees and the United Nations. "I expect we will probably continue this and we will take it to a broader group of people on the other side of the world – it is not just a Klamath Issue," Mitchell said.

(Darling, Dylan, "Tribes: Dam removal on the table," Herald and News, 28 July 2004.)

(Johnson, Jean, "Water in the West: Klamath tribes know its worth," Indian Country Today, 10 August 2004.)

us – northwest

Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, Elwha River, WA

Update: Agreement signed in Elwha dam removal

A long–delayed project to remove two dams on the Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River received official approval as members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe joined the city and others to sign an agreement to move the project forward. The city of Port Angeles, the National Park Service and tribal members signed the agreement to begin work in 2008 on the $182 million plan to restore the Elwha, once one of Washington’s most productive salmon rivers. Removal was approved by Congress in 1992, but has been stalled as negotiations dragged on over its impact on local communities. Mayor Richard Headrick voted against it, expressing concerns over potential effects on the city’s water rights and supply. An advocate of the proposal, Representative Norm Dicks, D–Wash., attended the signing at the Port Angeles City Hall. "We’re moving on this quickly. This is going to be a major historic project, removing these two dams and restoring salmon habitat," he said. Approximately 145 dams have been removed in the United States since 1999, but the two Elwha dams are the largest. "This will be an enormously important precedent for dam removal," Elizabeth Grossman, author of "Watershed: The Undamming of America," comments. "People will definitely look to the Elwha as evidence of whether this kind of project can really work." Workers will dismantle the 108–foot–tall Elwha Dam and the 210–foot–tall Glines Canyon Dam in stages, reopening 70 miles of salmon and steelhead spawning habitat.

(Associated Press, "Agreement signed in Elwha dam removal," Casper Star–Tribune, 8 August 2004.)

(Gawley, Brian, "Port Angeles: Memo–signing paves way for dam removal project," Port Angeles Peninsula Daily News, 8 August 2004.)

American Fork Dam, American Fork River, UT

Federal government approves dismantling of American Fork Dam

A federal commission has approved the dismantling of the American Fork Dam in Utah, a project intended to benefit the state’s trout population. Electric utility PacifiCorp said last summer it would tear down the dam under an agreement with state and federal agencies and conservation group Trout Unlimited. PacifiCorp will dismantle the 97–year–old hydropower dam and surrender water rights to improve habitat for brown and rainbow trout and help Bonneville cutthroat trout recover. The utility agreed to start work in September 2006 removing the dam and 2.2 miles of pipeline. Final removal is expected by 2007. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided recently to approve the agreement, marking the final step in the long process. Bringing the aging dam into compliance with federal requirements would have required costly modifications.

(The Times News, "Federal government approves dismantling of American Fork dam," 18 August 2004.)

Update: Judge Redden halts plan to reduce dam spills, aiding salmon

Salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers will get a boost on their swim to the ocean next month, thanks to a federal judge’s ruling. US District Judge James Redden issued an injunction to stop a Bush administration plan that would have reduced the amount of water spilled over four federal dams. An alliance of environmental, fishing and tribal groups that had sued the US Army Corps of Engineers over the plan cheered the ruling. "It’s an historic decision, "said Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, the lead plaintiff in the case. "This is the first time in all the years of litigating on the Snake and Columbia that a judge has actually stepped in and prevented the agencies from taking a step that was seriously harmful for endangered salmon," he said. Redden held that the government’s own studies clearly showed that Snake River fall chinook were in jeopardy unless the Bonneville Power Administration allowed more water over the dams in the summer. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski also opposed the reduced–spill plan, but the governors of the other three Northwest states served directly by Bonneville – Washington, Idaho and Montana – all support the summer spill plan, as did some utility, transportation, agriculture and port groups.

Full story found at:

(Seattle Post Intelligencer, "Judge halts plan to reduce dam spills, aiding salmon," 29 July 2004.)

(Rojas–Burke, Joe, "Kulongoski challenges hydro dam spills; The governor joins a lawsuit against increased flows to generate electricity that he says would harm salmon fisheries,", 20 July 2004.)

Hells Canyon dams, Snake River, ID

Update: FERC forced by court to consider Hells Canyon dams’ affect on fish

It took seven years, but conservation groups finally have a commitment from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take a closer look at how Idaho Power Co.’s Hells Canyon dams affect threatened or endangered Snake River salmon and steelhead. Idaho Rivers United was one of eight groups that filed a petition with FERC in 1997 asking that the agency consult with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service) to ensure that operations at the Hells Canyon dams do not jeopardize the continued existence of threatened or endangered species. The company’s 50–year licenses were granted in 1955, before the establishment of the Endangered Species Act, but the groups say the act required that the existing licenses be reviewed to see if operations were harming threatened or endangered fish. The commission finally approved the 7–year–old request last week, but only after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said last month that the agency had 45 days to respond to the petition. The appeals court said the environmental groups "are entitled to an end to FERC’s marathon round of administrative keep–away."

Full story originally available at:

(Dey, Ken, "Activists pleased with dam decision: FERC orders studies of fish in Hells Canyon," 12 August 2004.)

us – midwest

Record pollution settlement on Grand Calumet River

The US Justice Department crafted a deal to cheer environmentalists hoping to return the Grand Calumet River to crystalline purity, create hundreds of cleanup jobs for local workers and cap the future liability of eight industrial polluters. It also generated applause in the Marquette Park Pavilion for a governor needing votes in this Democratic stronghold only 10 weeks before the Nov. 2 election. Polluters includes the cities of Hammond and Gary, which signed consent decrees to stop dumping raw sewage into the river on a daily basis. The current agreement would cap the release of oil and other toxins from steel mills, refineries, chemical manufacturers and waste–disposal companies into river sediments. The government could have asked for many millions of dollars more from the eight industries that signed this week’s consent agreement, but that would have prompted years of prolonged litigation and trials, delaying the money needed to start the river’s recovery. The agreement lets the industries avoid admitting any wrongdoing and provides some from protection from future government suits on this issue.

(Dolan, Bill, "Record pollution settlement breath of fresh air for governor,", 21 August 2004.)

River restoration project one of country’s largest

Conservationists are working to restore a massive flood plain in Central Illinois. The Emiquon flood plain on the Illinois River once was home to two shimmering lakes that sustained fish, waterfowl and other wildlife. But property owners built levees to drain the lakes to make way for farmland back in the 1920s. After years of planning and study, the five–mile–long strip of fertile farmland is about to undergo one of the largest flood–plain restoration projects in the country. Conservation group The Nature Conservancy is teaming with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to restore the lakes.

(World Now, "Illinois River restoration project one of country’s largest.", 17 August 2004.)

Another choice for the Mississippi River

"It’s an election year, so many of our senators and representatives are trying to deliver more pork to their constituents," writes IATP President Mark Ritchie in a new commentary. "A bipartisan group of Midwest senators, including Minnesota’s Norm Coleman, seem determined to spend $2.3 billion in taxpayer funds–building several new locks and lengthening old ones on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. It appears not to matter that substantial evidence indicates that the project isn’t needed and that public investments in rural development could be much better spent. . . There’s no question that spending billions of taxpayer dollars can benefit a region. But the question for taxpayers is if this is a wise investment, and the answer is unequivocally no. From agriculture’s perspective, public investment in the domestic market can do much more for farm income than longer locks. Several years ago, Midwest policymakers made a commitment to ethanol production. Despite the initial concerns over the economics of the industry, that investment has seeded an important source of renewable fuels that increases the price of corn from five to eight cents per bushel near ethanol plants. This pales in comparison to the benefits that a national commitment to renewable energies could provide."

For more information, read Mark Ritchie’s commentary on Mississippi River Navigation and rural economic development by downloading the full paper at: (PDF)

(Ritchie, Mark, "Another Choice for the Mississippi River," IATP News)

us – northeast

Coopers Mill Dam, Sheepscot River, ME

Dam removal on Sheepscot will aid fish migration

A dam on Maine’s Sheepscot River will be removed using federal funds being made available this year. The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that $4.8 million will be pooled in 2004 to remove 91 barriers to fish passages in 26 states. In Maine, the Fish and Wildlife Service says it will work to remove the Coopers Mill Dam on the Sheepscot River –– which impedes the passage of endangered Atlantic salmon, shad, alewives and other migratory fish. Fish and Wildlife officials say the removal of the dam will improve access to 25 miles of habitat.

Full article found at:

("Dam removal will aid fish migration," 10 August 2004.)

Mill Dam, Rancocas Creek, PA

Mount Holly residents oppose removal of dam

A proposal to remove the dam at Mill Dam Park was opposed by residents at a community meeting. Officials are considering removing the dam to expand a fish and wildlife habitat as well as to save money on dam maintenance and liability costs. Manager Arthur Liston said the Township Council would make a decision on the dam next month. About 75 people attended last night’s meeting. Residents who own homes along the north branch of Rancocas Creek, which the dam controls, expressed fears that removing the dam would lower the water level and their property values, since they claimed canoeing and swimming would be impossible in the shallow depths that would remain. Federal wildlife officials said that if the dam were upgraded, the state could require installation of an $800,000 fish ladder. The federal government and the state would foot the bill for the dam removal, since the move would expand the wildlife habitat. But if the dam stays, township taxpayers would have to pay for the fish ladder. One resident questioned the concern for wildlife. "My home value is going to go down," he said. "My kids won’t be able to swim, and there’ll be no canoeing. We should be more important than fish."

(Martin, Bruce, "Mount Holly residents oppose removal of dam,", 11 August 2004.)

Black Brook Dam, Black Brook, NH

Black Brook Dam faces removal if city can’t afford repairs

Aldermen are considering removing the 100–year–old Black Brook Dam on Maxwell Pond, which is need of costly repairs. Money–wise it’s an easy question: knocking down the dam, situated in Samuel Blodget Park, could be paid for through state and federal grants, while needed repairs will cost $60,000 initially, plus $6,000 a year for upkeep. But in a meeting last fall with West Side neighbors, the overwhelming consensus was to keep the 12 to 15–foot dam, which was built by the Manchester Coal and Ice Co. and hasn’t had a use since the 1960s. Restoration has a $1.2 million price tag, if the job includes dredging the 7.7 acre pond. Silt has collected to make the water about 4 feet deep, as opposed to a depth of 20 feet years ago. Stephanie Lindloff, the river restoration coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Services, said the problems include a 3.5–foot sinkhole next to the dam, seepage from the spillway and cracks in the structure. If the dam is removed, it would allow species such as trout and Atlantic Salmon access to the final six miles of Black Brook, Lindloff said. The pond would then become part of the stream, washing away the silt and setting up natural bends on its trek to empty into the nearby Merrimack River.

(Yates, Riley, "Black Brook Dam faces removal if city can’t afford repairs," The Union Leader, 11 August 2004.)

us – southeast

Update: Silt buildup below breached Embrey Dam alarms conservationists

A sandy wall of silt remains piled up behind the breached Embrey Dam, and sandbars are clogging parts of the river downstream in places they’ve never been spotted before. What’s happening has conservationists worried. Friends of the Rappahannock Executive Director John Tippett outlined his concerns in a letter this week to Brian Rheinhart, who heads up the dam–removal project for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We are particularly concerned about the long–term deposition of sediment in the area below the fall line from Falmouth Waterfront Park to the City Dock/Ferry Farm area, "Tippett said, noting that there are plans to re–create a ferry crossing at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s boyhood home. "Our concern is that the extensive volume of sediment remaining behind the dam will eventually make its way [there] where it will remain. Once there, it will not only impede recreational boating and the proposed ferry, but also increase the elevation of floodwaters in an already flood–prone area. "Tippett suggests that the Corps of Engineers address the silt problem in the next phase of its project. Next month, a contractor will build a causeway into the river to begin dismantling what’s left of the former dam. "Why not remove the remaining sediment at that time as well? "Tippett asked, noting that it would be easier to remove now that it is exposed.

(Dennen, Rusty, "Group asks feds to clear more silt,", August 12, 2004.)

Dillsboro Dam, Tuckasegee River, SC

Update: South Carolina–based energy firm wants Dillsboro Dam

A new player has entered the fray over Duke Power’s proposal to remove the small Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckasegee River. Clifton Corporation, a small independent hydropower consulting firm based in Spartanburg, wants to retrofit and upgrade the Dillsboro Dam and powerhouse rather than see it torn down. Duke’s opposition to Clifton’s offer was formally filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. "Transfer of Dillsboro to Clifton so that Clifton can continue operating it ... will not occur," Duke’s attorneys stated in a letter to FERC. Duke hopes removing the dam will count as environmental mitigation for its 10 other dams on five rivers in the region. Permits to operate those dams expire in 2005 and 2006. To get new 30– to 40–year permits, Duke must provide recreational and environmental compensation in exchange for profiting from a public resource – i.e., selling hydropower generated by damming the rivers. If the Dillsboro Dam is not removed, Duke will have to provide other forms of mitigation – such as buying conservation easements along the Tuckasegee’s riverbanks, creating an environmental trust fund or decreasing the amount of water diverted from the natural riverbeds to the powerhouses.

(Johnson, Becky, "S.C.–based energy firm wants Dillsboro dam," Smoky Mountain News, 28 August 2004.)