No. 40, September 5, 2002

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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









china / africa

China plans to build huge dam in Africa.

China is to build a hydropower project in Africa said to be equal in scale to that of the Three Gorges Dam. The project bid was won by a Chinese engineering firm currently working on the Three Gorges Dam - the biggest construction site in the world. The China Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation (CWRHEC) will undertake the building of the Tekeze Hydropower Project in Ethiopia in 2003. At a cost of about USD 600 million, it would be the largest ever cooperation between China and an African country. The main concrete structure of the Tekeze Dam would be over 600 feet high - slightly higher than Three Gorges Dam.

For more information on the Tezeke River and an earlier dam proposal, visit: Learn more about International Rivers' China campaigns, including Three Gorges Dam at:

Nonexistent node nid: 336.

(White, Paul, 'Connection to revolution; Paul White reports from Beijing on the dividends of a nationwide fibre optic network and co-operation with Africa.' Morning Star, 15 July 2002.)


Unclogging the Niagara River

The Niagara Restoration Council has received a $149,000 grant to help remove logjams, man-made crossings, dams and other barriers to water flow from the Niagara River and its tributaries. The council is dedicated to helping restore natural wildlife habitat to the Niagara Peninsula. The Niagara River has been designated an 'area of concern' by the federal and provincial governments because of pollution and poor water quality. Dan McDonell, the council's environmental manager, said the group has identified more than 163 potential 'barriers.' This grant, from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, will go towards ridding Niagara region rivers and streams of smaller barriers that have built up over the years, such as dams built to divert water to manufactured ponds, or stream-crossings. The council is currently talking to 10 landowners who have shown an interest in cooperating with the barrier removal efforts. McDonell said that most landowners welcome the opportunity to rid their waterways of logjams.

Visit the Niagara Restoration Council at:

(Van Dongen, Matthew, 'Trillium grant should keep river flowing: Niagara Restoration Council will use $149,000 to unclog Niagara River and its tributaries,' The Standard, 11 July 2002.)

us - general

Oversight favored for Corps projects: science panel faults engineers' work

The National Academy of Sciences has called for independent reviews of large-scale Army Corps of Engineers water projects, a significant victory for conservationists and fiscal conservatives who have questioned Corps analyses for years. The academy's report, commissioned by Congress in 2000 after Corps officials were caught manipulating a Mississippi River study, argued that expensive, complex and controversial Corps projects should be double-checked by panels of experts who are neither employed nor selected by the Corps. It did not attack the Corps as harshly as earlier analyses by the General Accounting Office, Office of Management and Budget and the Army inspector general, or even a recent e-mail by a top Corps general, but it did question the agency's science and economics. Corps defenders have vowed to block the same bill if it does include reviews or other so-called Corps reforms.

(Grunwald, Michael, 'Oversight Favored For Corps Projects Science Panel Faults Engineers' Work,' Washington Post, 26 July 2002. Available at:'pagename=article&node=&contentId=A666-2002Jul25&notFound=true.)

'The Politics of Restoring American Rivers,' forthcoming book

In his forthcoming book, 'The Politics of Restoring American Rivers,' William Lowry explores the increased willingness of US policymakers to consider new approaches to river management. These include the removal of dams on the Neuse and Kennebec rivers, the failed attempt to restore salmon runs on the Snake, the ongoing effort to simulate seasonal flows on the Colorado, and the long debate over how to manage the Missouri River to provide more natural conditions. As US Senator Byron Dorgan noted in a July statement, the Army Corps of Engineers manages the Missouri River using a master plan originally published in 1962, which is based on assumptions that do not reflect the current conditions in the Missouri River Basin 'Navigation interests yield about $7 million in economic benefits annually, while the recreation and tourism benefits yield about $80 million annually,' Dorgan said. 'Recreation and tourism are increasing, while barge traffic continues to decline.' Dorgan called for the Bush Administration to stop its delay tactics and get on with issuing the master plan. For an online version of this news release, with pictures, please visit: Additional background on Lowry and his research is available at his homepage:

(AScribe Newswire, 'Expert on Politics of American Rivers Discusses July 10 U.S. Senate Hearings on Missouri River,' 12 July 2002.)

'Watershed: the Undamming of America' a book review

'Watershed: the Undamming of America,' by Elizabeth Grossman explores restoration of America's rivers by removing dams. Although none of the more than a dozen dams examined in the book are in Utah, one does impact the state: Lake Powell's Glen Canyon Dam. One of the book's 11 chapters is given over entirely to the Colorado River and the Glen Canyon Dam -- a picture of which is featured on the cover. If Grossman's facts are correct, this water blockade may be wasting more water than it saves. Grossman writes that the Navajo sandstone around the lake bed is like a sponge, and that one estimate is the water lost to seepage may be enough to supply Los Angeles for a year. 'America has spent most of its first two centuries turning its rivers into highways, ditches and power plants. Now, slowly, we are relearning what a river is and how to live with one,' Grossman writes. 'With dams, we have tried to mold rivers to suit human purposes. We are learning -- at great cost -- that rivers don't work that way. Rivers reach farther and last longer than perhaps we can imagine.'

Elizabeth Grossman will read from her book at the Ecology Center in Berkeley (2530 San Pablo Avenue) on September 17 at 7pm. For more information, contact The Berkeley Ecology Center at 510-548-2220 ext. 233. For more information about the book, contact Cary Goldstein at Counterpoint Press at 212-340-8151 or at

Learn more about campaigns to restore Glen Canyon, visit Living Rivers' campaign at, and the Glen Canyon Institute at .

(Arave, Lynn, 'Author urges removing dams to restore rivers,' The Deseret News, 12 July 2002.)

us - california

New manager for Nature Conservancy's Sacramento River project

Dawit Zeleke took over the Sacramento River project for the Nature Conservancy recently, stepping into the hot seat of contention over handling of restoration projects put into motion more than 15 years ago. During a recent interview, Zeleke said he has a hard time understanding why some people are so adamantly against efforts to restore a very small percentage of habitat that once thrived in the valley. For a decade and a half, various state, local and federal agencies have been working toward the goal of restoring a more natural, yet limited, meander zone on 18,000 acres of land along the river from Big Chico Creek to the Tehama County line. Over time, that goal is getting close to being achieved. So it's puzzling why now there seems to be mighty opposition, Zeleke said. But the point is, Zeleke said, that only a tiny amount of important habitat remains, and that small amount deserves to be protected.

(Hacking, Heather, 'New manager seeks balance between habitat and agriculture,' Chico Enterprise Record, 5 August 2002.)

Efforts to restore endangered Southern California Steelhead

Work is under way in Ventura County to restore once-abundant steelhead trout runs in the Ventura and Santa Clara rivers and tributaries such as Matilija, Santa Paula and Sespe creeks. Before the 1940s, all supported popular local sport fisheries. In addition to three large projects now being undertaken, several local organizations offer everyday citizens and creek property owners opportunities to get involved and help. Ongoing watershed-restoration efforts also are being conducted by the Ventura River Stream Team, which holds monthly water-sampling events. Because of a steeply declining population, the Southern California steelhead was listed as an endangered species in 1997. It is now illegal to kill, harm or harass steelhead in Southern California. This includes fishing for them. Historic runs of spawning adults are estimated to have been about 5,000 per year in the Ventura River, and 10,000 a year in the Santa Clara. There are thriving rainbow trout populations in several tributaries of the Ventura River and smaller streams in the Santa Monica Mountains. This lends a ray of hope to the recovery of local steelhead populations. In most of Southern California, the steelhead began to decline sharply in the late 1940s, mostly because of construction and operation of dams, reservoirs and water diversions on steelhead streams. These structures reduce downstream flows, leading to the drying up or alteration of fish habitat. They also create barriers to upstream and downstream steelhead movement.

For more information, visit the Matilija Coalition's web site at, and the Surfrider Foundation's web site at and click on the Ventura County Chapter home page.

(Brinkman, Jeff, 'Citizens can help restore local trout runs: Groups lead hikes, events to educate,' Ventura County Star, 14 July 2002.)

Daguerre Point Dam, Yuba River, CA
Daguerre Point Dam; focus of conflict

For environmental groups, Northern California's 25-foot-high Daguerre Point Dam is a prime candidate for removal. The project would be part of the federal and state commitment to improve passages for endangered fish, and cost $60 million to $100 million. For local farmers and water officials, the dam offers a convenient point at which to channel river water for irrigation. It also keeps century-old mining debris from washing down the river. 'Daguerre serves a whole lot of useful functions,' said Curt Aikens, general manager of the Yuba County Water Agency. The debate over Daguerre Point reflects a conflict involving several California rivers and streams that pits protecting the environment against preserving decades-old farming and recreational arrangements. Years of negotiation by federal, state and local officials, environmentalists and farmers have produced an agreement to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A critical element of the accord was improving conditions for endangered fish in the delta and along tributaries. But as money for the agreement dwindles in Sacramento and Washington, some environmental groups are losing faith that many dams will be removed. 'This is a good example of where theory runs afoul of politics,' said Steve Evans of Friends of the River in Sacramento. 'In a lot of the restoration programs put together by scientists, removing obstruction to salmon runs is a way of solving problems. But then the people who recreate and live nearby, plus the water interests downstream, object.'

(Sherman, Mark, 'Proposals to remove dams spawn debate,' Associated Press, 13 July 2002.)

us - northwest

Condit Dam, White Salmon River, WA
Counties threaten to sue over Condit Dam removal

Skamania and Klickitat counties will sue the Department of Ecology under state water quality rules if the agency grants PacifiCorp permission to breach Condit Dam, their Seattle attorney warned Tuesday. An Ecology official acknowledged that issuing such a permit would be 'a stretch,' given the dramatic, short-term impacts of dam removal on water quality in the White Salmon River. But he said agency attorneys believe the Clean Water Act provides a legal basis for the state to permit the project. The staff of the dam-licensing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave the project a green light two weeks ago. The aging dam, built in 1913, would be the highest ever removed in the United States. But Portland-based PacifiCorp, the dam's owner, still must obtain what's known as 401 certification from the state of Washington before it can proceed with plans to take out the dam in October 2006. Ecology must determine that the project will meet state water quality rules and comply with the State Environmental Policy Act. But that finding may be hard to reach. According to FERC's final environmental impact statement, breaching the dam will release between 451,000 and 897,000 cubic yards of sediment trapped behind the 125-foot-high dam.

(Kathie Durbin, 'Counties threaten to sue over Condit dam removal,' The Columbian, 11 July 2002.)

us - midwest

Chicagoland's Water Trail Plan

The Northeastern Illinois Regional Water Trail Plan, prepared by Openlands, the Illinois Paddling Council and NIPC, covers Lake Michigan and the 10 major waterways in the metropolitan area: the Chicago, Des Plaines, Calumet, Little Calumet, DuPage, Fox, Kankakee and Kishwaukee Rivers and the Nippersink and Salt Creeks. The document, approved in September 1999, spells out where work is needed to open or improve the waterways for paddle-powered craft, as well as identifies dams and other permanent obstructions that need to be removed or around which portages -- paths to carry canoes -- need to be constructed. The project is going well, according to Andre T. Gaither, a local official with the National Park Service. Of the 160 access points -- places where canoes and other craft can be launched or taken out -- called for in the plan, 63 were already in place when the plan was approved. Since then, another 29 have been added. But nearly half remain to be built or improved. Water trails, where respite can be had, wildlife observed and history studied in the midst of urban sprawl, 'are becoming a very hot topic around the country,' Gaither says. 'A lot of people are looking for places where they can get 10, 15, 20 minutes of solitude without having to take an eight-hour drive somewhere.'

(Reardon, Patrick T. 'Riverdance; It ain't out of Mark Twain, but Chicagoland's river system is healthy and surging as a recreational asset,' Chicago Tribune, 18 July 2002.)

Cedar Creek dam, Cedar Creek, WI
Dam removal sought to restore Cedar Creek

The last dam on upper Cedar Creek would be demolished later this year at a cost of $90,000 as part of a state proposal to regain 25 miles of free-flowing stream. Removing the 56-year-old dam would eliminate a weed-choked pond that provides a home for carp but few other fish, said Will Wawrzyn, a fisheries biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources. He is the main author of an environmental assessment of the project published by the DNR and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In summer, the impounded water upstream of the dam is covered with Eurasian water milfoil, an invasive plant that has shoved aside native aquatic plants, the report says. Most recreational uses of the pond have been eliminated by thick mats of the exotic plant and deep layers of muck, which has accumulated to depths of nearly six feet. In December of last year, the DNR bought the 10-foot-tall dam, 9.75-acre impoundment and 8.75 acres of adjoining land. The total appraised value was $225,000. Two local conservation groups, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust and the Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation, each contributed $10,000 to the purchase.

Learn more about dam removal in the state from River Alliance of Wisconsin at:

(Behm, Don, 'Dam removal sought to restore Cedar Creek; Mucky pond in Polk to dry up as water returns to its natural banks,' Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 16 July 2002. Available on-line at:

us - northeast

Pequabuck River dam, Pequabuck River, CT
A plan to restore Bristol's Pequabuck River

The 16-mile-long Pequabuck River flows through the heart of Bristol's downtown on its way to the Farmington River. During a meeting with the mayor and development officials, the Pequabuck River Watershed Association outlined a plan for the demolition of a state-owned dam. The dam was built to divert water to local industries, most recently Bristol Brass, but is no longer needed. Association members say the removal of the dam, estimated to cost $500,000, is supported in concept by state and federal agencies. They say it would enhance the Pequabuck as a habitat for trout and other fish, allowing them to swim most of its length from the Farmington River to a dam in Plymouth. Association members are also asking the city to consider acquiring a nearby trucking terminal to use as a park and to give people with disabilities access to the river. Although the Pequabuck was once considered too polluted for stocking fish, a concerted 20-year cleanup has transformed it into a true fisherman's tale of success. Today, the river is not only stocked with trout and salmon, but ranks among the state's best in growth rates for trout. A park could also be linked with hiking and bicycling trails along the river.

To learn more, contact the Pequabuck River Watershed Association at 860.589.5547, or visit the Connecticut Rivers Alliance at:

( 'Downtown's natural asset; our towns; Bristol,' The Hartford Courant, 17 July 2002.)

West Winterport Dam, Penobscot River, ME
Winterport Dam removal advocates seek court remedy

The parties trying to demolish the West Winterport Dam are seeking a preliminary injunction against the two communities standing in the way of their goals. In a suit filed in Penobscot County Superior Court on Monday, Facilitators Improving Salmonid Habitat, or FISH, and dam owner John C. Jones asked the court to stop the towns of Winterport and Frankfort from requiring them to obtain a shoreland zoning permit. FISH and Jones also want the court to stop the towns' attempt to take the dam by eminent domain. 'I'm really still studying it, but it raises a whole host of questions,' Charles Gilbert, the Bangor lawyer retained by the towns in their fight to save the dam, said Tuesday. 'It looks like they are trying a pre-emptive strike. It looks like they are trying to have a judge make a decision on whether John Jones has a dwelling house there and whether they need a shoreland zoning permit.' FISH wants to remove the dam on the Marsh Stream in order to return the waterway to its natural character and improve the passage of spawning Atlantic salmon and other species. The Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have approved the plans.

(Griffin Walter, 'Winterport dam removal advocates seek court remedy,' Bangor Daily News, 10 July 2002.)

Fort Halifax Dam, Sebasticook River, ME
Fish passage impasse at Fort Halifax Dam

Negotiations to create fish passage at Fort Halifax Dam appear to have reached an impasse that makes removal of the hydroelectric facility an ever greater likelihood. Kenneth Fletcher, head of the local effort to preserve the 94- year-old dam, said Gov. Angus S. King Jr. may be the only person with the ability to break that stalemate. 'I think it is time for the governor to pull people back together again and say, 'Hey, folks. It's time to look at other options,' Fletcher said. Those other people are dam owner FPL Energy, conservation groups, and state and federal officials. Those parties signed a 1998 agreement that stipulated Fort Halifax Dam provide fish passage for sea-run species - alewives, American shad and Atlantic salmon - on the Sebasticook River through either a fish lift or dam removal. FPL Energy has rejected the fish lift solution as too costly to be economically feasible and has filed papers to obtain approval for dam removal. The energy company estimates the lift's cost to be between $3 million and $4 million. At the same time, FPL Energy proposed a third option for fish passage that could prevent the dam's removal: an experimental fish pump system.

(Hickey, Colin, 'Fish passage impasse Stalemate makes dam removal more likely, some say,' Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 9 July 2002.)

us - southeast

Restoring historic water flow patterns in the North Fort Myers' watershed

Like a miniature version of Everglades restoration, Lee County is working on a plan to re-establish some of North Fort Myers' historic water flow patterns. Before northern Lee County was developed, rain water used to run south and southwest from Charlotte County through the three watersheds as sheetflow, the slow, steady movement of water over land. Eventually, the water would flow unimpeded into the Caloosahatchee River and Matlacha Pass. 'But roads, railroad grades, more roads, development and channelization have altered the historic pattern,' county engineer Roland Ottolini said. 'We're studying the historical patterns, trying to restore the area to historical conditions to take advantage of the sheetflow. 'Right now we're in the conceptual stage, the modeling stage, working to make sure we have the flows correct.' Restoring sheetflow will increase water supplies because storm water will have time to soak into the ground instead of rushing down creeks and canals to Matlacha Pass or the Caloosahatchee. Water quality will be improved because the slow movement will allow the wetlands to filter out pollutants and sediments.

(Lollar, Kevin, 'Slough project to aid flow,' News-Press, 6 August 2002.)