No. 20, August 31, 2000

River Revival Bulletin
No. 20, August 31, 2000

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

Editor: Elizabeth Brink & Anne Baker









**Quebec Dam, Richelieu River, Canada**
St. Ours dam to gain a fish ladder

Officials in Quebec announced on July 14 plans to build a $1.7 million fish ladder for the St. Ours dam on the Richelieu River. The endangered copper redhorse, found only in the Richelieu and St. Lawrence Rivers, is expected to increase in numbers, as they will once again have access to their preferred spawning grounds upstream, which has been denied to them for over thirty years. In addition, due to the structure of the ladder, it is expected that the ladder will be used by and will benefit many other species of fish. Such fish populations have declined by 90 percent since their access to the upper river was denied.

(Klotz, Hattie, "Endangered fish to be reunited with spawning grounds after 33 years: $1.7-million ladder will create path around Quebec dam," The Ottawa Citizen, July 15, 2000. Text available at:


**Sawpit Dam, Sawpit Creek, CA**
Sawpit Dam decommissioned

After the 1927 construction of 147-foot Sawpit Dam, originally built to prevent flooding, engineers found the rock foundation beneath the dam too weak for the 437 acre-feet of water it was intended to hold. The dam was consequently never filled to capacity, as it would not have withstood an earthquake. In 1994, the Department of Public Works proposed a $2.5 million project to convert the dam into a free-flowing waterfall requiring less maintenance. The plan called for removing the valves in the dam, cutting a notch in the structure to allow water to flow through it, and retrofitting the dam to meet earthquake standards. Work on the project began just over one year ago, with the draining of the dam's reservoir and relocation of resident turtles. Most of the work has since been completed, with a cost to date at $3.9 million.

(Faught, Lisa, "Sawpit Dam is at end of its era: 147-foot-tall structure to become waterfall over next 50 years," San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 10 August, 2000.)

**Shasta Dam, Sacramento River, CA**
Shasta Dam receives safety inspection on drum gates

Inspectors from the Bureau of Reclamation climbed inside one of Shasta Dam's 110 foot-wide drum gates--which are raised to increase reservoir capacity and lowered to release water--for the first time in fourteen years. The inspections, necessary in determining the repairs needed to be done on the drum gates in a $1.5 million restoration project scheduled for summer 2001, found the inside of the gates in excellent condition. The restoration project will instead focus on repairing the rusting outsides of the gates as well as replacing the seals on the drum gates to prevent leaking.

(Deuel, Rebecca, "Inspectors eyeball dam drum gates: look shows how much needs repair," Redding Record Searchlight, 10 August, 2000.)

Section of Santa Clara River corridor to gain federal protection

The Santa Clara River of Southern California is home to twenty-two rare plant and animal species, is one of the region's last remaining major wildlife corridors for migrating deer, bears, and coyotes, and will possibly be taken out of private control and run by the government under an environmental recovery plan seeking to restore the river's natural resources. The proposal calls for acquiring 6,400 acres of lands, some privately owned and some owned by local governments, and incorporating them into one continuous park from the ocean to twelve miles inland. Under the plan, $15 million will be distributed to nine property owners for 2,180 acres; in addition, two golf courses will be relocated, which poses a potential obstacle to the plan.

(Polakovic, Gary, "Twelve miles of Santa Clara River targeted for restoration," LA Times, 18 July 2000. Text available at:

California continues to debate future of vast hydropower system

As previously reported, the San Francisco-based utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has introduced a new proposal to sell its $2.8 billion hydroelectric system to its parent company, PG&E Corp. The sale would end oversight of the system by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), causing environmental and recreation groups and state officials to fear that an unregulated PG&E Corp. will ignore environmental performance while controlling water flows to charge premium prices for power. Under the current proposal, the affiliate would pledge never to try negotiating a better price from customers by withholding the system's 3,896 megawatts of electricity, which is sufficient to provide power to nearly 4 million homes.

PG&E argues its 40-year transfer plan would stabilize prices because the new owner must follow -- not control -- the market price for power. PG&E says it also will return 90 percent of any hydropower profits to its customers, and set up a $70 million fund to enhance environmental and water quality and recreational use on watershed lands, in addition to following the recommendations that emerge from an environmental review now under way at the CPUC. A draft report is expected from the CPUC in September, and they are expected to rule on the sale sometime next year. Conservation groups such as the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense, outdoor recreation and sport fishing clubs strongly oppose the plan, saying not enough money has been set aside to address ongoing environmental issues like adequate stream flows. Last year, environmentalists endorsed a similar PG&E transfer scheme that put up $225 million.

(Anderson, Leonard, "California debates future of vast hydropower system," Reuters News Service, 31 August, 2000.)
(Johnson, Steve, "PG&E keeping its firm grip: Utility would transfer control of its hydroelectric dams to one of its affiliates in proposed deal," San Jose Mercury News, 10 August, 2000.)
(Peyton, Carrie, "New PG&E plan to sell system," Sacramento Bee, 10 August, 2000.)


**Goldsborough Creek Dam, Goldsborough Creek, WA**
Goldsborough Dam to be demolished

State and federal officials joined Simpson Timber and the Squaxin Island tribe in celebrating plans to tear down 115-year old Goldsborough Creek dam next summer. The fourteen-foot dam will be one of the first dams in the Pacific Northwest to be demolished to help salmon runs. A pipeline leading from the dam was wrecked in a 1996 flood, rendering the dam useless except in making it difficult or impossible for salmon to spawn in most of the creek. It is expected that once demolished, the fish will move farther upstream and will likely increase in numbers in the creek.

("Dam in Washington scheduled for removal: several parties cheer the news, saying that removing the dam will help salmon in Goldsborough Creek spawn," The Associated Press, 6 August, 2000. Text available at:

**Pathfinder Dam, North Platte River, WY**
Four-mile stretch of North Platte River to be restored

An angler group, known as Wyoming Flycasters, has secured a promise from the Bureau of Reclamation which will restore water flows in a bone-dry, four mile stretch of the North Platte River below the Pathfinder Dam. Rock structures and other stream habitat improvements are also planned to create flows capable of providing habitat for trout. The four-mile stretch will be owned and managed as a wild fishery by the Game and Fish Department.

(Dentry, Ed, "Wyoming restoration project a model for conservationists," Rocky Mountain News, 18 August, 2000. Text online at:

The status of Pacific Northwest salmon

While some Pacific Northwest residents are unconcerned or even unaware of how their lifestyles effect salmon populations (such as fertilizers down storm drains), others view salmon as a cultural emblem of the region, and feel that it is necessary to take action to save salmon from extinction, which is likely to occur within twenty years, according to federal and private studies. Increasingly, local people, such as the angler group Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited, are engaging in habitat restoration, which all-importantly emphasizes an understanding of human impacts on local ecosystems. However, some salmon experts believe that recovery of salmon populations are fully dependent on the breaching of Snake River dams. Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent budget watchdog group, agrees and is upset with a recent White House decision to delay the removal of the dams, and to instead place logs in the river in the attempt to produce a natural habitat. The group claims that over three billion taxpayer dollars have already been spent on salmon recovery efforts, and tens of billions more will be spent to compensate Columbia River Basin tribes if salmon become extinct. Nonetheless, the federal government has issued new regulations designed to protect fourteen salmon runs that cover 160,000 square miles from California's central coast to Washington's Puget Sound.

Salmon are not only a cultural emblem; a report released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife documents the vital role of salmon in the overall health of local ecosystems. The carcasses of salmon provide important nutrients, stored from their trip to the ocean, to young salmon in streams as well as to several other species. As salmon runs decline, less nutrients are available in streams (researchers calculate that five to ten percent of the nutrients originally delivered by salmon to streams is now available), which causes a decline in the populations of species that depend on salmon carcasses and salmon in general as a food resource. To counter such population declines, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been placing hatchery salmon carcasses in streams to try to restore some of the lost nutrients. In addition, sport and commercial fishing have been cut back to allow the return of more salmon to their spawning streams.

(McNeilly, Kathleen, "White House decision to delay dam removal could drive salmon to extinction and cost taxpayers billions, says taxpayer group," US Newswire, 20 July, 2000.)
(Hunt, Ed, "New report finds 137 species depend on salmon," Tidepool, 28 June, 2000. Text online at:
(Durbin, Kathie, "Rescuing the salmon," Vancouver Columbian, 9 July, 2000. Full text available at:
(Rose, Joseph, "Sacrifice for salmon a tough sell: Officials ponder ways to get Portland-area residents to change lifestyles and adopt new habits to protect endangered fish," The Oregonian, 4 July, 2000. Text available at:
(Knickerbocker, Brad, "Salmon protection plan with a sharp fin: Federal rules aiding migrating fish don't mollify environmentalists or businesses," The Christian Science Monitor, 22 June, 2000. )
("Anglers push for aggressive alternatives: Focus changes after breaching postponed by government," Associated Press, 22 July, 2000. Text online at:

Hot weather poses threat to Columbia and Snake River salmon

Hot, dry summer weather has heated the Columbia and Snake Rivers to temperatures not seen since 1992, raising fears of disaster for salmon and steelhead, which depend on clear, cold water. No large fish kills have yet occurred; however, unless river temperatures cool, adults returning to the rivers this year could die before spawning due to increased metabolic rates, causing them to burn through energy reserves before spawning. Young, ocean-bound salmon now in the warmer than usual waters of the Columbia Basin may experience long-term stress, raising their vulnerability to disease.

Oregon and Washington law requires the Snake and Columbia rivers to be kept at 68 degrees or below, yet temperatures have averaged 70 to 72 degrees for nearly a month. Conservationists and biologists say that the federal government, which owns and operates dams on the two rivers, is not doing enough to help cool waters; in particular, dams on the rivers raise water temperatures by holding water while it is being warmed by the sun.

(Brinckman, Jonathen, "Warm river temperatures pose grave threat to salmon, steelhead: scientists fear 'a loss of epic proportions' in the Columbia and Snake rivers," The Oregonian, 11 August, 2000. Text online at:

**Chief Joseph Dam, Columbia River, WA**
Potential revival of salmon runs in section of Columbia River

The Colville reservation, which is along the Columbia River between the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams, was once home to perhaps the most productive salmon fishery in the world. With the building of the dams and subsequent loss of salmon, tribal people lost their primary means of supporting themselves. However, under a recent agreement, the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Army Corps of Engineers will attempt to restore salmon in the 54-mile stretch of the river between the dams. The Colville tribe will study whether the portion of the river from the Chief Joseph Dam--he current dead end for salmon runs--to the Grand Coulee Dam can sustain a salmon fishery, while the Army Corps will determine if there is a feasible way to get the fish around the dam. It is likely such a way would be in the form of a multi-million dollar fish ladder.

(Craig, John, "Tribe hopes to see salmon above Chief Joseph Dam: Colvilles, Corps to look at restoring runs all the way to Grand Coulee Dam," 22 July, 2000. Article found at:


**San Acacia Dam, Rio Grande River, NM**
Redistribution of water will aid endangered minnow

Part of a lawsuit, brought by environmentalists last fall regarding an endangered minnow in the Rio Grande River, has been temporarily resolved. The city of Albuquerque and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy irrigation district agreed to contribute some of their imported water to conservancy district farmers, so native Rio Grande water will remain for the minnows, which were dying in the section below the San Acacia Dam prone to drying during droughts. Long term solutions to the problem being considered include eliminating the dam or replacing it with water collection pipes below the bed of the river. In addition, the irrigation district will continue to develop efficient water use systems, ways to prevent minnow eggs, larvae, and adult fish from becoming trapped in irrigation works will be evaluated, and capture and release programs will be expanded. One such capture and release program, proposed by Republican senator Pete Domenici, suggests improving minnow habitat upstream of the dam and then transporting the minnows there, instead of supplying water to the minnows downstream of the dam. US Fish and Wildlife Service biologists as well as environmentalists believe that while restoring habitat is vital for the minnow's survival, the species should be allowed to recover in more of its historic range than just the area proposed by Senator Domenici.

(Soussan, Tania, "Fish pact stretches Rio water," Albuquerque Journal, 3 August, 2000. Text available at:
(Soussan, Tania, "Senator suggests moving minnows," Albuquerque Journal, 24 August, 2000. Online text found at:


**Various dams, North Fork and White Rivers, AK**
Pros and cons of minimum flow in the White River Basin

In the 1999 Water Resources Act, US senator Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark included a section requiring the allocation of water from five Arkansas reservoirs to flow continuously from behind the dams into the White River Basin. The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed three scenarios for reallocating lake storage for so-called minimum-flow--either raising the lake elevation and reallocating minimum-flow water from resulting higher flood pool, or taking minimum-flow water from part of hydropower's allocations, or a combination of both. While Senator Hutchinson is trying to secure funds to study the positive and negative impacts of the methods for reallocating lake storage for minimum-flow, several people of various interests are voicing their opinions and concerns. Marina owners believe that minimum-flow water will not come from hydropower's allocations because of the potential economic impacts resulting from cutting hydropower capacity. They thus worry that raising the lake elevation will flood roads, parking lots, and other facilities along the marina, making it difficult for tourists to reach marina recreation areas. Supporters of minimum flow, such as the Game and Fish Commission, and the White and North Fork River Association, say that minimum flow will produce greater water flow in rivers, thus creating more hospitable habitat for the area's famed trout. The latter group claims that if fisheries are improved because of minimum flow, then trout fishing, already worth $161 million to the area (not including food and lodging expenses of fishermen), will boost that economic impact by at least ten percent.

(Stewart, Julie, "Marina owners leery of plan for regulating lake levels," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 26 July, 2000.)

+Waubeka Dam to be demolished

The ten-foot tall, 270-foot long Waubeka dam is scheduled to be blasted in two sections in August in order to prevent a collapse of the disintegrating concrete structure. The accumulated muck behind the dam will be given a month to dry out in the hopes that it will reduce the amount of muck that escapes downstream, preventing potential coverage of gravel fish-spawning beds as well as habitat of mussels and aquatic insects. In September, the remaining section of the dam will be blasted to ground level, fully draining the twenty-acre impoundment.

Attempts have been made to generate public support for restoration of the dam, as the dam is related to the community's milling history dating to the 1850's. Restoration, however, is far costlier than demolition--which will be funded by the state--due to the extent of repairs necessary.

(Behm, Don, "DNR to blow holes in Waubeka dam: Deteriorating structure unsafe, can't be fixed, state says," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 July, 2000. Text available at:


Residents speak out about water quality of Alum Creek's tributaries

An organization, called Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries, is concerned about proposed development along Alum Creek tributaries and how it will effect the water quality of Westerville--a suburb which sucks up and treats water from the creek and pumps it to homes and businesses. The developers, if approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, will enclose two Alum Creek tributaries in culverts, relocate part of another, and fill in wetlands and ponds. The Friends group says that such activity will change water flow patterns and increase the mudflow downstream, consequently choking aquatic life. The Westerville water superintendent adds that muddier water means higher treatment costs. The Friends group hopes that new laws being developed by nearby Columbus City Council will put more controls on what can be built near waterways, including tributaries.

(Crumbley, Ray, "Plans for Alum Creek spark concern," Columbus Dispatch, 27 June, 2000. Text available at:

**Various dam failures, Musconetong River, NJ**
New Jersey storm raises rivers and reservoirs, damaging and destroying dams

Severe storms in New Jersey brought eight to ten inches of rain, causing rivers to reach historic flood levels and resulting in the evacuations of hundreds of residents around swollen rivers and reservoirs. At least sixty homes were destroyed and another 400 suffered water damage. Four dams were destroyed, and several other dams and bridges were damaged. The cost of damage was expected to exceed $100 million; the state has thus requested federal disaster relief.

("New Jersey residents in disbelief over flood damage," Associated Press, 14 August, 2000. Text found online at:
(Cooper, Candy J., "Officials take stock of an 'infrastructure disaster'," Bergen Record, 17 August, 2000. Text available at: