No. 39, August 5, 2002

River Revival Bulletin

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

Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak

table of contents










Kotopanjang Dam, Kampar Kanan River, Indonesia
Indonesians to sue Japanese government for dam damage

3,000 people from 13 villages on Indonesia's Sumatra Island are planning to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for damage caused by a Tokyo-funded hydropower dam. The islanders are planning to sue the Japanese government, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Tokyo Electric Power Services Co. (TEPSCO). JICA and JBIC are affiliated with the Japanese government, while TEPSCO belongs to a business group headed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. These institutions were involved in building Kotopanjang Dam, which caused the plaintiffs and 20,000 other villagers to be forcibly resettled. This will mark the first time a project paid for by Japan's official development assistance (ODA) will be legally challenged. The dam was completed in 1997 at a cost of 31.18bn yen. According to the supporters, the local residents have been left without proper living facilities, such as clean well water on the resettled land, and have not been guaranteed job opportunities there, becoming 'developmental refugees.' The dam has also damaged the natural environment in the area, with elephants and other animals facing starvation, they said. 'The plaintiffs and local residents are seeking restoration of their living conditions and natural environment, while voices are growing among them to dismantle the dam', said Akihiko Oguchi, who heads the Japanese lawyers representing the plaintiffs. 'We may include its removal in our demands when we file the suit.'

Read more about the controversies surrounding this project at:

(Global News Wire, 'Indonesians to sue Japanese government for dam damage,' 8 July 2002.)
(Hirano, Keiji, 'Indonesians to challenge Japan's ODA in court,' Japan Economic Newswire, 7 July 2002.)

us - general

Report on dam removal highlights costs, benefits, lack of data

A new report on small dam removal around the country finds that decisions on whether to retain or remove a small or medium-sized dam require more data than is currently available, in addition to scientifically based decision-making processes and more communication among researchers. According to the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, which released the report, 'Dam Removal: Science and Decision Making,' the purpose is not to take a position on dam retention or removal, but rather to offer the best available methods and information to dam owners, private citizens, researchers and other decision-makers. The report focuses on small dams (storing less then 100 acre-feet of water) because Americans have the most experience removing small dams, the report says. US non-profit groups have documented the removal of nearly 500 dams, but the Heinz Center estimates that the number is much larger, and so far the dams removed have been small, privately owned structures. The nation has much more experience building dams than it does removing them, the report maintains. The Heinz Center has proposed hosting a conference for researchers also to clarify the present state of knowledge and identify gaps.

Download or order 'Dam Removal: Science and Decision Making,' at the following web address:

(Henry, Natalie M., 'Report on dam removal highlights costs, benefits, lack of data,' Land Letter, 2 July 2002.)

River and watershed restoration short course at Portland State

Sign up today for the third annual River and Watershed Restoration Intensive Short Course at Portland State University. This four-day lecture and field course reviews the watershed context for stream enhancement. Principles of hydrology and fluvial geormorphology are presented for rural and urban settings. Participants discuss the roles of hydrologists, geomorphologists, ecologists, and hydraulic engineers in river and stream restoration design. Field mapping skills are developed and review of urban restoration proposals provide opportunities to critique and offer alternative design proposals. The course runs from October 2-5, 2002 from 9am - 4pm each day. The cost of the course is $475.00. A 20% discount is given to 501(c)3 organizations. Academic credit at the graduate level can be earned for an additional fee. Past attendees have come from 8 states and provinces and 3 countries.

To register contact Brigetta Olson at the Executive Leadership Institute, 503.725.5117, e-mail or visit the Watershed Management Professional Program website at

White House must demonstrate commitment to Lewis & Clark trail

President Bush proclaimed that the Lewis and Clark bicentennial should 'remind us of our Nation's outstanding natural resources,' and now his administration is confronted by important decisions that will determine the future of the rivers that carried the explorers from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. The White House is currently considering long overdue reforms to the operation of six dams on the Missouri River, and must make a decision soon on this politically charged issue. On the Snake, current operations allow the economic tail to wag the dog, putting the needs of the $6.9 million barge industry ahead of the more than $85 million recreation and tourism industry and the ecological health of the river. Even with wild Snake River salmon runs down to 1 percent of what Lewis and Clark experienced - and still dwindling - President Bush's campaign promise to restore Snake River salmon without removing the lower Snake River dams remains unfulfilled. A recent analysis revealed that less than 25 percent of the actions prescribed in a December, 2000 plan to restore the river and boost salmon runs have been implemented. The 2001 juvenile salmon migration from the Snake River to the Pacific was the worst on record.

For more information, contact Chad Smith, 402.477.7910, Rob Masonis, 206.213.0330, or Eric Eckl, 202.347.7550 ext. 3023, or visit

(US Newswire, 'White House Faces Major Tests of Commitment to Lewis & Clark Trail,' 3 July 2002.)

us - california

Los Angeles River greenway could be the anti-freeway

So much is breaking up Los Angeles - from secession movements to the growing divide between the city's wealthy and working poor - that it may come as a shock to learn there is something knitting the city together. Residents are gathering with a common purpose to bring life to the banks of the neglected Los Angeles River, a 51-mile-long, concrete ditch used for fiery car chases in action movies. The river descends from foothills capped by million-dollar houses, past movie studios, through working-class neighborhoods, and across the flood plain south of downtown where the river, until now, was ignored by freeway commuters and residents alike. Now it represents the only opportunity left to create open space in the heart of Los Angeles, and everyone knows it. Nearly $90 million in public funding has already been allocated for greening the banks of the river, as much as $60 million more will become available through a bond measure approved by voters in March, and more will come from regional open-space agencies. The city, county agencies, environmental organizations, neighborhood associations and ordinary residents are returning to the riverside to work on parks, landscaping and bike paths. This restoration project is a hopeful demonstration of how a perilously fragmented Los Angeles can pull itself together. The banks of the river are becoming crowded with volunteers planting trees and schoolchildren learning for the first time about the river that runs through their neighborhood. The greenway could be an anti-freeway, binding together some of the gaps in the fabric of the city.

(Waldie, D.J., 'Reclaiming a Lost River, Building a Community' New York Times, 10 July 2002.)

Auburn Dam (proposed), American River, CA
Flow reversed on future of Auburn Dam

The decision has finally been made to restore the American River. The federal Bureau of Reclamation is finishing a plan to flood the construction zone for what would have been one of the largest dams in the United States, Auburn Dam. The project will open seven miles of river for whitewater rafting by 2004, restoring habitat for fish and other species. Politically, it virtually guarantees that Auburn Dam - once slated by President Lyndon Johnson's administration to be taller than the Washington Monument but halted over earthquake concerns in the 1970s - will be impossible to resurrect or ever build.

(Rogers, Paul, 'Flow reversed on future of Auburn Dam,' Contra Costa Times, 2 July 2002.)

us - northwest

Condit Dam, White Salmon River, WA
PacificCorp's 'blow and go' plan for Condit Dam removal criticized

The nation's dam-licensing agency has embraced an agreement to remove Condit Dam from the White Salmon River. If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) accepts the recommendation of its staff, the 89-year-old Southwest Washington dam would be the largest removed in U.S. history. In a long-awaited document just released, FERC staff endorsed an agreement reached between dam owner PacifiCorp and 21 agencies, tribes and environmental groups. The agency recommended a series of minor modifications to the agreement, mostly to prevent erosion and protect fish and wildlife. The settlement, reached in September 1999, calls for the Portland utility to build up a fund of $17.15 million by October 2006. At that point, the utility would surrender its license to harness a public waterway. Then it would open a 12-foot-by-18-foot hole in the base of the 125-foot-high dam and blast through it, draining the dam's reservoir and allowing more than 2 million cubic yards of sediment to spill downstream in a matter of hours. This removal plan has been opposed by Klickitat and Skamania counties, as well as many lakeside cabin owners who worry they will lose prime trout fishing in the 1.7-mile Northwestern Lake. Critics say PacifiCorp's 'blow-and-go' plan will devastate 3.3 miles of the White Salmon River between the dam and the river's confluence with the Columbia.

(Robinson, Erik, 'Condit dam removal takes step forward,' The Columbian, 2 July 2002.)

Soda Springs Dam, North Umpqua River, OR
PacificCorp may finagle long-term license on Soda Springs Dam

PacifiCorp's hydroelectric project on the North Umpqua River took a major step toward long-term relicensing after the utility agreed to adjust flows to keep water cold enough for fish throughout the year. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality certified that the 185-megawatt North Umpqua Hydroelectric Project can meet requirements under the U.S Clean Water Act to protect fish without removing the Soda Springs Dam. The project is made up of eight small dams that were completed in 1956. At peak production during heavy spring runoff, it can produce 185 megawatts, enough to power 95,000 homes. However, with only two small reservoirs, it cannot generate that much power consistently. The Clean Water Act certification is required before the project can get a new long-term operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The last license expired in 1997, and has been provisionally renewed annually while PacifiCorp seeks a new long-term license. Early in the relicensing process, a report suggested removing Soda Springs Dam, the bottom dam on the project, to expand steelhead spawning habitat. The U.S. Forest Service originally supported the idea along with environmentalists, but backed off after PacifiCorp walked out of negotiations. The Steamboaters, a sport fishing group, continues to support removal of Soda Springs Dam as a condition of relicensing, said conservation director Ken Ferguson. 'This is not a political-philosophical position,' said Ferguson. 'This is supporting the original science and a group conclusion.'

(Barnard, Jeff, 'North Umpqua Project clears major hurdle toward relicensing,' Associated Press, 1 July 2002.)
(Barnard, Jeff, 'Hydroelectric project takes relicensing step: It can meet rules without removing the Soda Springs Dam, the DEQ says,' Associated Press, 2 July 2002.)

Cooperative effort saves fish, farmers on the Umatilla River

Tribal ingenuity and clout, federal funds, and irrigators eager for a solution, have brought salmon back to the Umatilla River in Oregon. Finding enough water to save the river, save the salmon and save the local farming community is a remarkable story of cooperation, perseverance, tribal clout and federal cash. This project, two decades in the making, took a river of money - some $100 million was spent by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and Bureau of Reclamation to bring fish back to the river. In 1855, the tribe was promised a treaty right to fish in perpetuity. Later, irrigators were also promised water for agricultural development. Set on a collision course, the two decided to work together to force the federal government to keep its promise to each of them. Our slogan was 'Negotiate, not litigate.'' In fact, it worked so well, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla is working to do the same thing on the Walla Walla River, which also is pumped dry each summer.

(Mapes, Lynda V., 'Cooperative effort saves fish, farmers,' Seattle Times, 1 July 2002.)

Group sues to save fishery by blocking logging on burned area

Idaho and Montana environmental groups have filed suit to prevent logging of fire-killed trees. Friends of the Clearwater and the Idaho Sporting Congress joined the Ecology Center and Alliance for the Wild Rockies in their claim the Nez Perce Forest sale will damage water quality and harm threatened salmon and steelhead habitat. 'The government has said that habitat for salmon and steelhead will receive extra protection in light of the decision not to remove the lower four Snake River dams at this time. The decision to log this sale goes against those promises,' said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. The groups also claim the agency's analysis was biased and ignores the benefits of fire in clearing the forest of dead and dying vegetation. In February, Nez Perce Forest Supervisor Bruce Bernhardt approved the sale that will harvest 3 million board feet of timber from 3,440 acres using tractor, skyline and helicopter logging methods. The groups unsuccessfully appealed to have the sale canceled at the agency's Northern Region level. But Macfarlane claims the sale was more than tripled to more than 9.5 million board feet after it was approved and the appeal decided. 'It is hard to imagine the impacts of this sale were adequately assessed given the significant changes that were made after it was approved. We hope the Forest Service reconsiders this ill advised sale,' he said.

Visit Friends of the Clearwater at

(Associated Press, 'Environmentalists say logging would harm water quality and fish,' 26 June 2002.)

(Barker, Eric, 'Group sues to block logging on burned area,' Lewiston Morning Tribune, 26 June 2002.)

us - southwest

Dam put on hold due to concerns over wildlife habitat

A $40 million channel dam on the Rio Grande designed to provide drought relief to part of South Texas has been delayed by a federal report saying the project would deplete about a third of a protected wildlife habitat. The report by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, said that the project would flood about 16 acres of grass and brush in the Sabal Palm Forest Wildlife Community. The agency's determination that the proposed dam is not compatible with the land's designation as a refuge temporarily blocks the project, which supporters say is crucial for the future of the growing community. The effects of an extended drought have been worsened by Mexico's failure to meet the terms of a water-sharing treaty. Environmentalists, however, applauded the report, which said that the affected area included 'the last remnants of a vast and biologically diverse brushland ecosystem.' The federal report said. 'Over 95 percent of this fragmented wildlife corridor has been lost to development.' The project calls for a weir, or gated dam, to be built about eight miles downstream from Brownsville and Matamoros, Mexico. The weir would create a reservoir holding about two billion gallons of water.

(Associated Press, 'Dam in Texas Is Put on Hold by Concern Over Habitat,' 21 July 2002. Available on-line at:

us - midwest

Drownings point out perils of low-head dams

Joey Bosley, 16, and Shane Holcombe, 15, died in the grip of a 'drowning machine' last month. While swimming, the two best friends slipped over a low-head dam on the Elk River in southwest Missouri. They couldn't pull themselves out of the viciously churning water at the dam's base. Water rescuers and hydrologists know that while many low-head dams - with vertical drops of a few inches up to perhaps 20 feet - may appear benign, quite the opposite is true. Even the smallest of them spawns powerful hydraulics that can catch objects, or people, that go over the dam. It can be a long time before whatever is caught works its way free. Water that tumbles over a dam falls to the river bottom and moves downstream a short distance. Then some of it resurfaces and gets sucked back toward the dam in a cycle of motion. Many low-head dams were built early in the 20th century to power mills or to raise a river's level enough to float barges, said Jim Alexander, chief engineer of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' dam safety program. The vast majority of them no longer serve any function.

(Uhlenhuth, Karen, 'Drownings point out perils of low-head dams,' Kansas City Star 3 July 2002.)

South Batavia Dam, Fox River, IL
Plan to remove Fox River dam

Under a new plan, the Kane County Forest Preserve District will seek bids on the long-awaited removal of the deteriorating South Batavia Dam, which spans the Fox River at the northern tip of the Glenwood Forest Preserve. Pending authorization next week by the full Forest Preserve Commission, dismantling of all or much of the nearly century-old dam could begin this fall, according to Jon Duerr, district field services director. The work also would depend on the issuance of state and federal permits, he said. Removal of the South Batavia Dam is part of a larger strategy to improve the flow and water quality of the Fox River and to return the historic waterway to a more natural condition unfettered by unused or deteriorating manmade structures. Built in 1913 to serve a coal-fired electrical power plant, the South Batavia Dam includes an east and west spillway. The dam has fallen into such disrepair that a car could drive through a breach near the center of the dam, according to engineers who evaluated the structure for the district. Duerr said the projected cost of removing the dam has been estimated at about $1.2 million.

(Presecky, William, 'Kane forest panel close to plan to remove Fox River dam,' Chicago Tribune, 2 July 2002.)

us - northeast

New England Box Co. Dam (Winchester Dam), Asheulot River, NH
15 miles of Asheulot River free-flowing for the first time in a century

A diminutive structure by human standards but an impassable obstacle to many fish, the Winchester Dam on the Ashuelot River was removed in late July. Last year, a section of the Ashuelot was restored when the McGoldrick Dam was removed. Winchester had deteriorated greatly since it was built around 1900. The dam once provided water storage to a nearby box company and woolen mill. It no longer served a function and was considered to be a hazard to anglers and paddlers. As part of the dam removal project, two millstones will be retrieved for display at the Winchester Town Hall and the Winchester Historical Society. The estimated cost of removing the 3-foot high, 105-foot-long timber crib dam was $33,000. Removing the dam will restore approximately 15 miles of the Ashuelot River to free-flowing for the first time in a century. This project is a significant part of a river-wide restoration plan to help bring back thousands of American shad, blueback herring, and Atlantic salmon to the Ashuelot River. Additional parts of the plan to restore the Ashuelot River include the removal of the Homestead Woolen Mill Dam in West Swanzey and the installation of upstream fish passages on three hydropower dams located in the lower section of the river. Stephanie Lindloff, DES river restoration director, said there are plenty of older, useless dams ready for removal in New Hampshire. 'There's no shortage of older dams that could be removed,' she said. 'Just when we do that depends on the opportunity, whether the owners are no longer interested in maintaining them, and whether removal is good for the river.'

For more information contact Stephanie D. Lindloff, River Restoration Coordinator, New Hampshire Dept. of Environmental Services, Water Division-Dam Bureau at 603.271.8870, or by e-mail at

(Seitz, Stephen, "Dam removal gives salmon room to run," Union Leader, 26 July 2002. Full text at:

Smelt Hill Dam, Presumpscot River, ME
Restoration of Presumpscot River

With water quality improved following a pulp mill's closing, conservationists are now aiming at restoring once-abundant sea run fisheries in southern Maine's Presumpscot River. Several nonprofit groups and public agencies are working with Sappi Fine Paper on a plan to manage one of the nation's oldest industrial rivers and possibly restoring the Presumpscot's fisheries. Sappi closed its pulp-making facility three years ago and the 26-mile long river is cleaner than it's been in a century. The pending removal of the Smelt Hill Dam will restore sea run fisheries on seven miles of the river, and the re-licensing of five other hydropower dams will likely lead to the installation of fish ladders on at least three dams. The river has nine dams in all. A coalition of groups called the Presumpscot River Steering Committee has been working on a plan to restore the fishery and will invite the public next fall to sessions aimed at refining its mission. Sea-run species include American shad, river herring, alewives and Atlantic salmon. Once the plan is completed in the fall, the steering committee will implement it, whether the state adopts the plan or not, said Catherine Groves, director of the Casco Bay Estuary Project.

(Associated Press, 'Restoration of Presumpscot River in southern Maine eyed,' 20 June 2002.)
(Bell, Tom, 'Presumpscot possibilities grow rosier; with the river cleaner than it has been in a century, nonprofit groups and agencies envision fishery restoration,' Portland Press Herald, 20 June 2002.)

Neponset revival

The Neponset River, one of the region's most invisible natural resources, endures the insults of tunnels and chain-link fences that make it inaccessible in parts. On the other hand, there's a riverine renaissance taking place next to the New England Patriots' new stadium in Foxborough and Pope John Paul II Park in Dorchester. The nine-year-old Neponset River Watershed Association fights for the conservation and restoration of the river. The Neponset is about one-third the length of the Charles, but boasts only one park, one bike path, and two posted canoe launching sites (one requires a 100-yard hike). The Neponset watershed empties into a 29-mile workhorse of a waterway that for centuries was exploited for a 268-foot vertical drop that could power mills, supply water, and flush away waste. For a river that just decades ago ran not only hot and cold but in a rainbow of colors, the Neponset's looking quite good - the water is twice as clean as it was eight years ago. Almost 80 percent of the river is now clean enough to swim in during dry weather when pollution from storm-water runoff is minimal.

Several festivals are planned on the river or its banks this summer. Visit the Neponset River Watershed Association at

(Arnold, David, 'Boston's hidden river long existing in the shadow of the Charles river, the Neponset river is finally getting some attention,' The Boston Globe, 18 June 2002.)

us - southeast

Erosion, pollution battled along Chattooga

On dry, cloudless days, the Chattooga River sparkles as kayakers approach its white-water rapids. But after heavy rains, the lower river becomes so muddy it resembles a flooded, roadside ditch. Bacteria levels soar to amounts unsafe for swimming. A cold mountain stream that widens dramatically in Georgia and South Carolina, the river is a major draw for canoeists, hikers and campers. They love its rocky rapids, high cliffs and thickly wooded banks. And though much of the river is free of pollution, the Chattooga has developed enough blemishes to warrant attention. Silt from gravel roads and new construction sites, as well as bacteria from septic tanks and sewer plants, are pressuring the Chattooga River, according to an array of government studies. These problems threaten sensitive trout habitat, public swimming holes and water clarity, studies show. Protecting the river is important because the Chattooga is one of the South's most precious waterways. The 57-mile long Chattooga is one of five federally designated wild and scenic rivers in the Carolinas and Georgia, and the only one in South Carolina. The designation limits new dams which once were contemplated for the Chattooga - and establishes programs to preserve its stream banks.

(Fretwell, Sammy, 'Erosion, pollution battled along Chattooga,' The State, 30 June 2002.)

Workers dig in to restore creek

Workers demolished a Freedom Park landmark in late June 2002. A dam in Little Sugar Creek was removed as the first phase of an eight month project to restore the creek through the park. Workers will tear out the hard concrete liners along the creek bed. The project is a partnership between Mecklenburg County and the North Carolina Wetlands Restoration Program. Eventually, the greenway will stretch 12 miles from Cordelia Park on North Davidson Street to the South Carolina border.

(The Charlotte Observer, 'Workers dig in to restore creek,' 27 June 2002.)