No. 16, April 5, 2000

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink & Annie Ducmanis



  • Major victory on the Theodosia

  • CalFed involved in California dam removal
  • Daguerre Point dam prime candidate for removal
  • US decision is apparent death knell for Auburn Dam project
  • Deal made to breach Saeltzer Dam

  • Ruck dam preservationists seek landmark status
  • Toxins released in dam failure mar Cedar Creek
  • Fox River dam removal controversy rages on


    Dam decommissioning demanded in actions around the world

    On March 14, thousands of people around the world organized actions to speak out against dams, fight for reparations and demand alternatives. From Australia to Uganda, groups worked to spread the word about the impacts of dams and the need for healthy rivers. This year marked the third anniversary of the event, which originated at the First International Meeting of People Affected by Dams held in Curitiba, Brazil in 1997.

    Many groups used the Day of Action to call for new strategies for river management. In Thailand and Australia, groups campaigned for river restoration and dam decommissioning. Members of the Inland Rivers Network in Australia organized a media campaign to advocate the decommissioning the 15-meter-high Wellington Dam, located 400 miles northwest of Sydney. The Australian group Pedder 2000 organized a ten-day Living Rivers Festival in Tasmania filled with workshops, videos and a blessing of Lake Pedder, whose beautiful pink quartz beaches were inundated by the Huon-Serpentine Impoundment. In Thailand, hundreds assembled on the banks of the Mun, Kok, Yom, Rubror, and Mekong Rivers to pray for their restoration and revival. Hundreds of Thai villagers and activists called for the decommissioning of the World Bank-funded Pak Mun Dam, which has harmed fisheries, and the Rasi Salai Dam, which has been plagued with salinization problems.

    Action to celebrate restoration of the Colorado River

    The Moab, Utah-based Glen Canyon Action Network (GCAN) is leading a charge to free the Colorado from Glen Canyon Dam, and has set out to build a people's movement "on their way to Glen Canyon," whose magnificent red-rock canyons were drowned with the filling of the dam in the 1960s. The movement's first public event was a Restoration Rendezvous, which revolved around the March 14 International Day of Action Against Dams.

    "This is a significant step for Glen Canyon, the Colorado River and rivers throughout the world," said GCAN Executive Director Owen Lammers. "A people's movement is now forming to embark on a restoration journey unparalleled in the history of river management. Starting with Glen Canyon and working up and down the watershed, this effort will promote water, energy, agriculture and restoration policies that will ensure the long-term health and integrity of the Colorado River."

    Dignitaries speaking at the event included David Brower, who spoke of his long history fighting the dam, Dineh tribal elder Thomas Morris, who spoke of how the submersion of sacred sites has negatively impacted his people, and Ryan Sandoval of the Navajo Nation. Juliette Majot, Executive Director of International Rivers, stated at the event, "Decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam sends a signal to the world that it is possible to restore our rivers and watersheds, even where large dams now stand in the way. There is real greatness in doing so during our lifetime, in recognizing the mistakes we've made and meeting the challenge to correct them. People all over the world who are fighting to save their communities and rivers will join this campaign because it is in their interest to do so. In a way, we are all on our way to Glen Canyon."

    For more information or to sign on to the Glen Canyon Declaration for the Restoration of Glen Canyon and the Colorado River, visit, and contact GCAN at 435.259.1063, or by e-mail at


    **Theodosia Dam, Theodosia River, British Columbia, Canada**

    Major victory on the Theodosia

    Restoration of salmon on Canada's west coast is the objective of a deal to demolish a large dam on the Theodosia River, north of the town of Powell River. The Theodosia dam, measuring 8 meters high and 125 meters long, will be the largest dam to be dismantled in Canada. The provincial government of British Columbia made a deal with dam owner Pacifica Papers Inc. to restore the river's water flows, government officials announced on February 28, 2000. The dam, 12 kilometers from the mouth of the Theodosia River, diverts about 70 percent of the river's natural flow to the Powell Power Plant. The Theodosia River diversion has been active and licensed through the province since the dam was constructed in 1956.

    There are over 2000 dams in British Columbia, of which an estimated 300 have either outlived their usefulness all together, or provide only marginal benefits while continuing to cause major environmental problems. "No dam was meant to last forever " they do age and, eventually, outlive their usefulness. When that occurs, I believe we have to look at the decommissioning or dismantling option in an effort to restore habitat," stated Mark Angelo, Rivers Chair for the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia, at a February 28 press conference on the project. The removal of the dam may set a precedent for the removals of more large-scale dams in the future, according to Angelo. Many dams are routinely removed in the province, but none of this magnitude to date.

    For more information, visit, or contact Mark Angelo at 604.737.3058 or


    **Waimanalo river, HI**

    Department of Agriculture to breach dam

    The Hawaii Department of Agriculture plans to remove a century-old, abandoned dam in Waimanalo saying that the reservoir now poses a liability. 'safety is our biggest concern now," said James Nakatini, chairman of the state Board of Agriculture. In it's current deteriorated state the dam poses a flooding threat to dozens of families downstream. Restoring the dam would cost an estimated $3.4 million. Breaching the dam safely would cost $800,000.

    Residents are concerned that removing the dam will increase the risk of flooding and pollute the local beach. "This is the state's longest white sandy beach. It would turn into a muddy and polluted beach." Said Joe Ryan Jr., member of the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board. Other residents, David and Kimberly Kalamas say they were not informed by the Department that one third of an acre of their land may be threatened if the dam comes down.

    Others, like Sara Collins an archaeologist with the Historic Preservation Division, feel the dam should be preserved because of its historical and cultural significance, she says the dam "is evocative of the sugar plantation era." Despite these concerns, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture will move forward with the process of removing the dam.


    CalFed involved in California dam removal

    Increasingly, California is finding itself caught up in a movement to reconsider the need for some of the thousands of dams in the United States. Across the country hundreds have already been taken down, and hundreds more are on the chopping block. State and federal officials are considering a proposal that a generation ago would have been inconceivable -- whether to tear down Englebright Dam, one of the more than 1,400 dams spread across the Golden State.

    The Englebright removal is being considered by the CalFed Bay-Delta program, a consortium of state and federal agencies devising a long-term plan for California's primary source of drinking water, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Dick Daniel, CalFed's assistant ecosystem planning director, said his agency's project and changes in public opinion have opened a window to remove obsolete dams.

    Dam removal advocates note that many dams are silted up, damaged or abandoned. CA dams falling into this category include: the 6-foot Niles Dam and 12-foot Sunol Dam on Alameda Creek near Fremont, as well as the 100-foot Rindge Dam on Malibu Creek, now filled with sediment, and Matilija Dam, a 190-foot-tall structure that has silted up on the Ventura River. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which owns the Alameda Creek dams, is studying whether to tear them out to help restore struggling steelhead runs. The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are studying how to remove Matilija.

    Last month, state Sen. Byron Sher, D-Redwood City, introduced a bill that would require the California Resources Agency to draw up a list of dams by Jan. 1, 2002, that could be demolished to help the recovery of endangered salmon and steelhead trout. Government agencies, fisheries biologists, angler organizations and environmental groups have proposed or are considering as many as 50 dams, large and small, for removal in California, according to surveys by Friends of the River.

    Phil Williams, a CA hydrologist involved in the movement to bring down dams said, "This is a new battleground . . . of ideas [about] how we should manage rivers." CalFed's Dick Daniel adds, "I'm not ashamed to say that reclaiming a river excites me. It brings me to tears."

    **Daguerre Point Dam, Yuba, CA**

    Daguerre Point dam prime candidate for removal

    Environmentalists are targeting the Daguerre Point Dam as a candidate for removal. The dam, built in 1906 to catch mining debris, no longer serves that purpose and blocks up to 40 percent of the Yuba River's salmon and steelhead trout from more than 12 miles of spawning habitat, said Maureen Rose, river keeper with the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL).

    Donn Wilson, engineer administrator for Yuba County Water Agency, disagrees. The dam allows passage of healthy fish, holds back tons of debris and diverts irrigation water to 80,000 acres of farmland, he said.

    For more information, contact SYRCL at 530.265.5961, or e-mail them at

    **Auburn Dam, American River, CA**

    US decision is apparent death knell for Auburn Dam project

    A decision announced this week by Lester A. Snow, regional director of the US Bureau of Reclamation, to abandon a tunnel that diverted water from the American River, could be the death knell for the long-stalled Auburn Dam project. In terms of sparking regional anger and conflict, the Auburn Dam project was second only to the proposal for a peripheral canal to bring Northern California water into the California Aqueduct by looping around the polluted Sacramento-San Joaquin delta.

    The Auburn Dam project was authorized in 1965 as a $426-million, 700-foot-tall dam about 37 miles north of Sacramento. But congressional opposition in the 1970s called a halt to the early stages of the project. Reasons included the rise of the environmental movement and increased concern over earthquakes near the dam site after a 5.7 quake hit Oroville in 1975.

    In 1992, the Bureau of Reclamation again submitted the project for congressional approval, this time reconfigured slightly as a flood-control project. Delays had driven the price tag to nearly $1 billion. The House overwhelmingly voted not to fund the project. Lockyer had threatened to sue the federal government over what he called the "needless, continuing environmental damage and impairment" to the North Fork of the American River.

    After decades of fighting the dam, Charles Casey, spokesman for Friends of the River, said his group and others would like to see the American River declared a "wild and scenic river," which would bar any revival of the Auburn Dam idea.

    • Perry, Tony & Gladstone, Mark, "U.S. Decision Is Apparent Death Knell for Auburn Dam Project," Los Angeles Times, 22 March, 2000.

    **Saeltzer Dam, Clear Creek, CA**

    Deal made to breach Saeltzer Dam

    The federal government moved a step closer to tearing down a 93-year-old dam near Redding, CA that blocks threatened salmon and steelhead from swimming upstream to spawning habitat. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reached an agreement with Townsend Flat Water Ditch Co., a small irrigation company, to tear down Saeltzer Dam on Clear Creek, which flows to the Sacramento River a few miles south of Redding.

    Knocking out the dam would free threatened spring-run chinook salmon and steelhead to spawn in 12 more miles of stream, enough spawning habitat to produce another 2,000 of each species each year and help stabilize their populations, according to Harry Rectenwald of CA Department of Fish and Game. The newly opened habitat would be especially valuable because it gets cold water released from the bottom of the bureau's Whiskeytown Lake upstream. Warm water is lethal to salmon and steelhead eggs and their young.

    According to the agreement, the Bureau would pay the company $2.5 million for agreeing to never build a new dam on the creek, remove its ditches and give up its right to divert water directly from Clear Creek. Tearing out the dam could cost the bureau -- which is under orders from Congress to help double the populations of Central Valley steelhead and salmon -- another $1.25 million.


    **Portland, OR**

    Columbia River tribes speak out for dam removal

    The U.S. government is holding public meetings to record the collective opinion regarding the fragile state of salmon in the Columbia River Basin. Their proposed restoration plans under fire, the government agencies are scrambling to meet the diverse needs of the Columbia River Basin. A meeting was held in Portland, OR and was attended by hundreds of citizens including representatives from the Columbia River tribes whose voices carried the day.

    Rafael Bill, Umatilla Fish and Wildlife Committee member for eight years, opened the caucus, saying, "The River is dying. The Clean Water Act was never recognized by federal parties, but we have rolled up our pants and our sleeves and gone to work. What we're about is recovery."

    Elder Terry Courtney, Warm Springs, continued, "After many, many years I see people from all walks of life uniting for this. The feeling we've always had is that the BPA (Bonneville Power Authority) could care less about the fish. We need to breach the dams. They give us numbers, but there is no fish there. We can't eat paper. Policy makers need to do what they say they are gonna do and soon. The fish don't have the time to be waiting on us."

    He explained that during the winter months the tribal unemployment rate is as high as 56 percent. "That wasn't our way of life. ... Our people knew salmon, that was our way of life ... I grew up on it."

    Harold Blackwolf, a fisherman for 38 years talked of the disappearing fish. "When the habitat is fit for fish, it will be fit for everything. Preserve and protect. Before any dams were built, the fish numbered in the millions. Common sense tells us 'Take out the dams.'"

    **Trout Creek Dam (Commonly known as Hemlock Dam) Wind River, WA**

    Hemlock Dam considered for removal

    An interagency scientific committee that studied habitat conditions for threatened Lower Columbia River salmon and steelhead last year ranked Hemlock Dam the number one problem for steelhead in the Wind River watershed. The dam is about two miles upstream from where Trout Creek flows into the Wind River.

    Before the Civilian Conservation Corps built the dam (1935) it is estimated that 1,500 wild steelhead once spawned in the waters of Trout Creek. Last year fish biologists counted only fourteen returning wild steelhead. With one month to go in this year's count, only two " a male and a female " have made it past the dam. The 16-acre reservoir also poses a threat to migrating steelhead. Over the years it has filled with sediment and is now only about two feet deep. Summer temperatures in the reservoir have been measured at 80 degrees, a lethal level for some fish.

    The Forest Service has spent millions of dollars modifying Hemlock Dam to funnel fish toward the fish ladder and make the structure more fish friendly. But Steve Lanigan, head fisheries biologist for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest said those were only temporary fixes. "We have to take a look at the big picture," Lanigan said. "We"ve also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring the upper watershed, and we want to protect that investment."

    A recent study by Washington State University found that the cost of removing the dam - about $1 million - would be less than the cost of breaching it or attempting to further upgrade fish passage. Before that can happen, however, the agency must complete an environmental impact statement and consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

    **Enloe Dam, Similkameen River, WA**

    Enloe Dam license denied

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected a decade-old application last week by a Washington state Public Utility District to rehabilitate and operate an existing hydroelectric dam in eastern Washington State. American Rivers has been fighting the Enloe Dam licensing for eight years.

    "We finally convinced the Commission that operating this dam does not make sense," said Katherine Ransel, director of American Rivers" office in Seattle. "The project is grossly uneconomic even without changes necessary to comply with water quality and other modern environmental standards, like fish ladders and screens. Now that both salmon and steelhead are listed as endangered in the upper Columbia River basin, those requirements can no longer be avoided. The PUD has been hoping for over 20 years, despite a century of decline in energy prices, that this project would someday be economically feasible. FERC finally had the good sense to acknowledge it just isn"t so."

    Studies by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) conclude that removing Enloe Dam is the best biological and economic option for salmon and steelhead restoration in the Similkameen River.

    For more information contact: American Rivers Northwest office at 206.213.0330, or visit their Web site at

    **Elwha River, Olympic Peninsula, WA**

    NPS to raze two dams on Elwha

    Eight years after Congress authorized the removal of two dams along the Elwha River to restore critical salmon habitat through Olympic National Park, the National Park Service (NPS) is finally able to move ahead to acquire the dams. NPS is expected to acquire the Elwha Dam, located outside the park, and the Glines Canyon Dam inside the park. The transfer was made possible by a $22-million allocation to the project by Congress in the 2000 Interior appropriations bill. The $22 million will be used to develop the designs for dam removal, habitat restoration, and water mitigation to deal with local concerns about diminished water quality because of silt released during the project. The total cost of the project is estimated at $122 million.

    The move is welcome news to Superintendent David Morris who says that the effort to raze the dams has been a "glacial process." The recent turn of events, Morris speculates, is because the Elwha Citizens Advisory Committee-formed in 1995 and made up of a variety of community interests-has expressed its opinion that removing the dams is in the best interest of the local economy.

    The preferred alternative in the EIS is to remove the dams simultaneously, but Gorton and the advisory committee have stated that they want the lower dam removed first to ensure that fish restoration is possible before spending additional money to remove the second dam. Brian Winter, a fisheries biologist and Olympic's manager for the project, says that approach "would achieve the same endpoint in restoration as the preferred alternative, but it would take longer, cost substantially more, and have greater adverse environmental impacts."

    **Lower Snake River dams**

    Politicians speak out in favor of dam removal on lower Snake River

    Citing the extensive scientific evidence underscoring the need to remove the four lower Snake River dams to save endangered salmon, Congressman Tom Udall (D-NM) sent a letter to the Clinton Administration saying dam removal must be "the first step to effectively restoring the salmon in the lower Snake River." Udall is the first member of Congress to publicly endorse breaching the Snake River dams.

    Oregon's Democratic Governor, John Kitzhaber has also stated that he is strongly in favor of breaching the dams. While it is the Republicans who generally make up the opposition to breaching dams to save endangered species, other Democrats have failed to come out in support of Udall and Kitzhaber. Fear of losing favor in certain constituencies keeps most Democrats from taking a strong position on the dams either way.

    Rep. Earl Blumenauer, (D-OR) who has said that although he shares Kitzhaber's commitment to saving salmon he is awaiting the outcome of scientific studies on dam breaching, as well as public comments on those findings. He said, "I am reserving my judgment on dam removal while these broader discussions take place." Udall is already convinced that removing the dams is the best option, saying "I think we can make this into a win-win situation."

    A copy of Congressman Udall's letter to the Administration is available at

    Public comments pour in to support Lower Snake River dam removal

    Nearly 9,000 people attended the 15 federal hearings on salmon recovery and the future of the dams on the Lower Snake River. According to observers, most of the people who spoke at the hearings were in favor of taking out the dams. By mid-March 120,000 public comments had been submitted in favor of removing the dams through hearings, letters, and electronic mail. "I have never seen an issue that drew as much testimony as this one," said Janet Sears, spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Portland.

    "I would have expected at some of the places we went, places like Lewiston and Clarkston, the pro-breaching folks would have been drowned out by those that wanted their dams to stay," said Brig. Gen. Carl Strock with the Army Corps of Engineers. "If the only input you had was what you heard in those hearings, you would come away with the impression that breaching was more acceptable to the region than perhaps we had thought." Chris Zimmer of Save Our Wild Salmon said, "It's clear to us that the region has spoken. It's now up to political leaders to follow the will of the people."

    For more information contact the Columbia and Snake Rivers Campaign at 800.SOS.SALMON, e-mail, or visit


    **Cedar Creek, WI**

    Ruck dam preservationists seek landmark status

    The Cedarburg Landmark Preservation Society and the city are financing a study of Ruck Dam that could lead to steps to permanently preserve the structure. Key Engineering Group Ltd. of Cedarburg has been hired to study the potential destruction of property along Cedar Creek downstream of Columbia Road if the dam were to fail. Donald Levy, an attorney representing the preservation society (the owner of the dam), hopes that this study and a subsequent investigation of the stability of the dam's foundation will persuade city officials to take over ownership of the structure.

    In 1994, a state Department of Natural Resources engineer notified the society that the dam's spillway, which would drain water out of the impoundment during a flood, was too small. The DNR has also ordered the society to complete a study of the stability of the dam's foundation by 2004. If that second analysis shows that the dam is unstable, the owner will be required to either repair or reconstruct the dam. However, state financial assistance is available only to municipally-owned dams, Mike Bruch, a DNR water management engineer, said. The grant program would pay for 50% of reconstruction costs up to a maximum of $200,000.

    Toxins released in dam failure mar Cedar Creek

    Four years after the Hamilton dam failed on Cedar Creek, draining a 5-acre impoundment and exposing broad mud flats contaminated with industrial chemicals, Mercury Marine says it is ready to proceed with a long-awaited cleanup later this year. Mercury Marine will meet with state environmental officials in Milwaukee this week to discuss the proposed $4 million cleanup, which involves excavating thousands of cubic yards of dried muck containing polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, from the former pond. The impoundment had stretched from the former dam site near Green Bay Road upstream to the Cedarburg sewage treatment plant.

    Mercury Marine, which operated an aluminum die-casting plant from 1951 to 1982, was the largest contributor of the pollutants, state officials have said. PCBs were ingredients in hydraulic fluids used at the plant, which were washed into floor drains, emptied into storm sewers and discharged to the Ruck impoundment on Cedar Creek, upstream of the former Hamilton dam. Mercury Marine is not solely responsible for the long delay, but negotiations with Amcast Automotive in Cedarburg, its partner in the cleanup, broke down early last year and Mercury Marine decided to proceed with its cleanup plans. Amcast operated an aluminum die-casting plant on Hamilton Road. A storm sewer from the plant discharged to Hamilton Pond. Mercury Marine, which excavated more than 7,500 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment from Ruck Pond in 1994, also faces future cleanup responsibilities at two other downstream impoundments, according to Brunette. Ponds behind the Columbia and Wire & Nail dams on the creek also contain substantial volumes of PCBs. The DNR still is pursuing a full creek cleanup," Brunette said.

    **Fox River dam, Yorkville, IL**

    Fox River dam removal controversy rages on

    The case for demolishing the 40-year-old, 530-foot dam that spans the Fox River at Yorkville is persuasive, according to state officials who have just completed a yearlong study of the dam. They say that getting rid of the dam would make the river cleaner, improve fishing, make it less of a hazard and reduce cleanup costs. The state's experts say the Yorkville Dam harms the river by restricting fish migrations and causing sediment to choke the waterway and stagnant water to pool behind it. Currents from the Yorkville dam are blamed in 13 drownings in the last 30 years.

    Some residents are not in favor of the plan and would prefer the dam to stay. "I can fish off my deck," said Greg Freeman, whose riverside home lies just upstream from the dam. Valerie Burd, too, is among those who argue for keeping the dam. "It's a nice focal point for the town," she says.

    It would cost the state three times more to modify the dam than to tear it out and replace it with a series of small riffles or rapids. Still, many people in Yorkville don"t want the dam removed. "It'll change the complete look of [the river]. It'll be mud and mosquitoes for the next 10 years," said Freeman. The experts take a different view. "The river would run shallower, faster and cleaner without the dam," said state streams biologist Bob Rung said. "All the water quality problems will be history."

    • Rozek, Dan, "Yorkville, state in fight over dam," Chicago Sun Times, 6 March, 2000.