No. 86, October 7, 2007

Produced by: River Revival, International Rivers
Editors: Elizabeth Brink and Wil Dvorak




$1.5 million for St. Lawrence cleanup

Canadian Environment Minister Laurel Broten announced the Raisin Region Conservation Authority and the St. Lawrence River Institute would receive $1.5-million to clean up Cornwall’s portion of the St. Lawrence River in August. The money is going to fund the clean-up and monitoring of mercury polluted sediment in the river, research on local fish habitats in the Lake St. Francis area, restoration of wetlands and implementation of an osprey monitoring program. “Years and years ago, industries emitted wastewater contamination into this river,” Broten said. “We know the issue of mercury contamination in fish.” The St. Lawrence River Institute has already begun monitoring the polluted sediment by checking it as new sediment forms over the old, contaminated area, said Jeff Ridal, executive director and chief research scientist at the Institute. Officials with the Ministry of Environment confirmed only $200,000 of that funding would actually be going to the cleanup effort of the river. Much of the money will be going towards acquiring new wetlands and restoring tributaries (by ensuring farmers who have land near tributaries know how far from the water they should keep their livestock or store their manure), explained Conrad de Barros, a project manager with the Ministry.

(Johns, Elisabeth and Lajoie, Kevin, “$1.5 million for St. Lawrence cleanup; Opposition calls it grandstanding,” Cornwall Standard Freeholder,, 22 August 2007.)


Will San Joaquin River plan slow the restoration of Trinity River?

The Hoopa Valley tribe has lived for thousands of years along far Northern California’s tumbling Trinity River, only to see most of its water diverted east to farms in the Central Valley. A plan to restore the mountain stream is in place. But the Hoopa now fear that a more expensive project to resurrect the San Joaquin River may slow down progress along the Trinity. The tribe is fighting legislation that would authorize a settlement ending 18 years of legal battles over the San Joaquin River. The tribe fears money dedicated to the Trinity will be siphoned away to the San Joaquin, a project that according to some estimates could cost $1 billion or more. Conservationists who brokered the settlement say the tribe’s fears are groundless. Nevertheless, Hoopa officials continue to criticize the San Joaquin plan. “Maybe the negotiators originally had the best of intentions, ... but they appear to have lost their perspective” by focusing only on the San Joaquin and neglecting the rest of California, tribal spokesman Danny Jordan said recently.

(Breitler, Alex, “Will S.J. River plan slow the restoration of Trinity River?,”, 04 August 2007.)

Feinstein, Schwarzenegger meet to discuss the future of the Delta

US Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met to hear presentations addressing major questions relating to the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta is facing a number of serious challenges, including water supply cutbacks, a system of aging earthen levees, as well as critical habitat and species loss, including the rapid decline of the Delta Smelt. At the meeting, Senator Feinstein and Governor Schwarzenegger brought together more than 30 leading water experts, interested stakeholders and civic leaders to discuss a range of short-term and long-term goals for the Delta. Among the topics discussed were ecosystem restoration, improved water conveyance, increased water storage, and additional water conservation. “The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is on the brink of disaster. And the decline of the Delta Smelt is the canary in the coal mine,” Senator Feinstein said. “We must take action to prevent catastrophe in the future. I’ve been working to help strengthen California’s water infrastructure for well over a decade now. And I look forward to working with Governor Schwarzenegger to develop immediate and sustainable solutions for the future of the Delta. The stakes are simply too high to fail.”

(Feinstein office, “Feinstein, Schwarzenegger meet to discuss the future of the Delta,”,
22 August 2007.)


Restoring Seattle’s Duwamish River

There is hope for the chemical-sodden Duwamish River. Discussions about the cleanup and restoration are at long last nearing action, although nothing major will happen for at least two years while the mess over who is responsible and what needs to be cleaned is being sorted out. But, finally, comprehensive plans are being drawn up to save the Duwamish. While smaller habitat-restoration projects have been going on for years, a heavily polluted five-mile stretch of the Lower Duwamish was given Superfund status in 2001. Next year, the Environmental Protection Agency - working with Boeing, the city of Seattle, the Port of Seattle and King County - will release a study laying out what kind of contaminants lurk in the river sediment, where they came from and what needs to be done. The agency’s cleanup plan will then be unveiled in 2009. The Duwamish, Seattle’s only river, made possible a robust manufacturing sector, allowing for goods to be moved out of one of the world’s most ideal port locations. The bulk of Seattle’s manufacturing and industrial sites can be found along the Duwamish.

(Blethen, Ryan, “The Duwamish: river of possibility,” The Seattle Times,, 12 August 2007.)

Habitat restoration on the Upper Klamath

The US Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $789,563 Targeted Watersheds grant to Ducks Unlimited. Through the grant, Ducks Unlimited will restore part of the Upper Klamath River Basin in southern Oregon. “This grant recognizes DU’s commitment to improve the Upper Klamath watershed,” said Tom Dwyer, DU’s director of conservation programs based in Vancouver, Washington. “The Klamath River watershed is a critical area for migrating mallards, pintails and canvasbacks. We plan on continuing our work to improve the area for the benefit of waterfowl and people.” The project will restore habitat for more that two million waterfowl and waterbirds. The Targeted Watersheds Grants Program began in 2002. It encourages protection and restoration of the nation’s watersheds. Since 2003, more than $40 million has gone into Targeted Watersheds grants.

(Ducks Unlimited, “Ducks Unlimited receives Klamath River watershed grant,”, 21 August 2007.)

Volunteers help remove dam on Blue Bus Creek

To improve habitat for steelhead, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees partnered with volunteers from the Tualatin Valley Chapter of Steelheaders August 18 to remove a dam on Blue Bus Creek. Volunteers and ODFW employees dismantled the dam by removing cables and cutting and rearranging existing logs to provide fish passage. A weir comprised of buried pipes and boards was also removed. The project provides two miles of habitat for steelhead. “By leaving the wood in the stream it will hopefully provide habitat for fish in the future,” said North Coast Salmon Trout Enhancement Program biologist Tracy Crews. The dam, constructed in the early ‘70s, served as water diversion for the hatchery house at East Fork Pond and appeared to be a barrier to fish passage at low flows. The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations.

For additional information, please visit

(The Hillsboro Argus, “Tualatin Steelheaders help with dam,”, 28 August 2007.)

Arco trying to get out of Mike Horse Dam removal

Atlantic Richfield is trying to extract itself from legal and fiscal involvement in the Mike Horse Dam removal. In documents filed in September in US Bankruptcy Court in Texas, lawyers for Atlantic Richfield also known by the acronym Arco say that a three-year federal and two-year state statute of limitations for claims ran out long ago. In addition, Atlantic Richfield claims that under the Clean Water Act, only the current facility owners and operators can be held liable for natural resource damages. The lawyers note that Atlantic Richfield “relinquished all property interest and ceased all mineral exploration activities at the site more than 25 years ago.” Arco’s alleged involvement is due to the fact that when the original Mike Horse Dam failed in 1975, it was repaired by the Anaconda Mining Co., which was bought by Arco in 1977. Originally constructed in 1941, the Mike Horse Dam, also called an impoundment, is poised at the headwaters of the Blackfoot River, made famous in the Norman MacLean novel “A River Runs Through It.” When the dam blew out in 1975, the contaminated water and sediments ended up killing all aquatic wildlife in a 10-mile stretch of the Blackfoot River.

(Byron, Eve, “Arco trying to get out of Mike Horse Dam removal,” Helena Independent Record, helena/, 04 September 2007.)

The Brownsville Dam removal is the first in the nation under the new Open Rivers Initiative

The Brownsville Dam removal is the first in the nation under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new Open Rivers Initiative. For advocates of endangered spring chinook salmon and steelhead, the event was a national milestone. The program provides funding and technical expertise for community-driven river barrier removals. With the planned breach of another dam by 2010, fish will have the run of the entire Calapooia for the first time in more than 150 years. Between the river and dozens of tributaries, biologists say fish could regain as much as 100 miles of spawning habitat. “We’re here to celebrate a new way of solving environmental problems,” said Ken Bierly, deputy director of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, at a dam-breaching ceremony. For many members of the Brownsville Canal Co., however, the dam is a bitter loss. Even as Bierly and others praised the collaboration that led the group to unanimously endorse removal last year, canal company president John Holbrook said most members were “too sad” to attend the ceremony. The community’s ties to it go back to 1858, when industrialists built a wooden crib dam to divert water into the Brownsville millrace.

(McCowan, Karen, “Dam’s end washes away a bit of history,” The Register-Guard,,
28 August 2007.)


Companies pitch in on Santa Fe River restoration

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and the Santa Fe Watershed Association got a little help on the Santa Fe River restoration project from an organic seed and food company. Seeds of Change, which is based in Santa Fe and is owned by Mars Inc., based in Virginia, held its global associate meeting in the city in August. About 60 of the company’s employees and partners will participate in the river restoration project. Coss adopted the Santa Fe River as a cornerstone initiative of his administration. Seeds of Change will donate all the seeds for the habitat restoration and soil stabilization. The company started out in 1989 as an organic seed company committed to reintroducing heirloom and traditional seed varieties back into the food supply. It also makes a line of organic foods. The Santa Fe Watershed Association is working to return the waterway into a living river from Lake Peak to the Rio Grande.

(New Mexico Business Weekly, “Companies pitch in on Santa Fe River restoration,”, 22 August 2007.)


New effort takes aim at Ottawa River restoration

US Representative Marcy Kaptur described the Ottawa River as a dead body of water while standing on its banks May 6, 2005. Some of the river’s sediment still has cancer-causing PCB levels 400 times greater than what the US Environmental Protection Agency allows. And some of its water still has 8,000 to 19,000 times more of that pollutant than what Ohio allows for drinking, according to US Fish and Wildlife Service figures. Despite all the millions that have gone into capping the Ottawa’s waterfront landfills, a US EPA official has said some 110,000 cubic yards of river sediment still need to be addressed at a cost of $15 million. Joining the regional planning agency is a new nonprofit group called Partners for Clean Streams, working with the Maumee Remedial Action Plan. For the beleaguered Ottawa, these assessments are a positive step forward.

(Henry, Tom, “New effort takes aim at Ottawa River restoration,”, 5 August 2007.)

Head of the Mahoning River Consortium resigns over Army Corps plans

The president of a group spearheading cleanup of the Mahoning River has resigned, citing fears over the Army Corps of Engineers plans for the $150 million project. A draft feasibility report by the corps has raised issues of damage liabilities for local communities. In addition, the cost of the project has soared as it drags farther behind schedule, said Trish Nuskievicz, who gave up her post as head of the Mahoning River Consortium. If the corps goes forward with its plans, $150 million will be spent without adequately cleaning the river or its banks, she said. “It’s something I can’t find acceptable in any way,” Nuskievicz, who said she’s been involved with the effort 11 years, said. “I believe if done correctly, this could have been the most important project in the history of the Mahoning Valley.” Nuskievicz said that remediation of contaminated banks might not be included in the project. Pollutants could be released into the river, she said. There also is a question whether it is in the corps’ authority to do dam removal, the former president said. Dam removal is viewed as the most efficient, cost-effective river restoration activity, she said. Nuskievicz said there appears to be no accountability at the corps for meeting deadlines or staying within budget.

(Goodall, John, “Cleanup concerns spark resignation,”, 15 August 2007.)


Pennsylvania dam removal to restore fish habitat

The 15-foot-high Heilman Dam on Mahoning Creek is no longer needed for railways, and is considered a public safety hazard and liability. Once the dam is removed, migratory fish will be able to travel 250 miles inland from the Atlantic. The watershed is one of three feeding the Delaware River that need to be preserved to restore shad. Migratory fish will once again be able to reach a stretch of their historic habitat in Pennsylvania when an old dam once built to provide water for steam-powered locomotives is removed, according to news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service. “It was a no-brainer, really,” said John Hanosek, manager of dam owner Lehighton Borough. “Removing the dam is the most logical decision for economic and public safety reasons. Plus, it restores Mahoning Creek to its natural state and allows us to create a safe riverside park for our community. We’re looking forward to seeing shad swimming past the park, and we thank our partners for helping make this happen,” he added. NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program (CRP) is providing technical assistance and feasibility and assessment funding for the $120,000 river restoration project.

(Gregory, Shirley, “Pennsylvania Dam Removal to Restore Fish Habitat; Project Will Benefit Migrating Shad, Others,”, 20 August 2007.”

Conservationists celebrate Woolen Mills Dam’s removal

Conservationists celebrated the breaching of the old Woolen Mills Dam, hoping the return of free-flowing water will revitalize the upper reaches of the Rivanna River. “We expect the dam to be fully breached in the next two to three days,’’ said Jason Halbert, head of the Rivanna Restoration Committee. “The importance of removing these dams can’t be underestimated.’’ The restoration of fish habitat should allow migratory fish such as American shad and eels to return to waters shut off for more than a century, said Alan Weaver of the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The Woolen Mills Dam was originally built in 1830 to provide waterpower for a mill. The Woolen Mills made wool uniforms until it closed in 1964, according to Angus Murdoch, head of the Rivanna Conservation Society, whose volunteers worked for years on the removal project. The mill switched to electric power about 1899. Many private, decaying dams throughout the country are being removed to improve river life, officials said. In August, a dilapidated former mill dam was removed from the Tye River in Nelson County, allowing about 20 miles of the river to run free for the first time in about 100 years.

(Santos, Carlos, “Conservationists celebrate dam’s removal,”, 16 August 2007.)

Sebasticook River; Removal of dam on track

FPL Energy expects to begin partial removal of Fort Halifax Dam next summer with a completion date of no later than Nov. 30, 2008. That would set the stage in spring 2009 for unimpeded migration of sea-run fish on this stretch of the Sebasticook River for the first time in 100 years. “The fish will be able to swim past by May 2009 at the beginning of the migration period,” FPL Energy spokesman F. Allen Wiley said. “They will have access to waters upstream of the dam, which means, of course, up to (the) Benton Falls (hydroelectric dam), where they will have to utilize a fish lift in the event they want to migrate any farther.” The energy company recently released its timetable on breaching the dam, a plan that has been delayed for more than four years as a result of legal challenges by a group organized by state Rep. Kenneth Fletcher, R-Winslow. Fletcher, a landowner on the Fort Halifax impoundment, founded Save Our Sebasticook when he learned Fort Halifax was headed for demolition. But Save Our Sebasticook saw its last hope of preventing dam removal dashed by the Maine Supreme Court. Maine’s highest law court upheld a Kennebec Superior Court ruling that the Department of Environmental Protection acted properly in issuing a permit to allow dam removal - a decision subsequently supported by the Board of Environmental Protection.

(Hickey Colin, “Sebasticook River; Removal of dam on track,” Kennebec Journal)


Dam removal good news for endangered fish

The Cape Fear Shiner is a yellowish minnow with black stripes, pointed fins and a hard-luck past. But with the help of an environmental firm that has offices in Greensboro, the fish that seldom exceeds two inches in length is becoming one of North Carolina’s biggest ecological success stories. Biologists working for Restoration Systems have found the endangered species in a 10-mile stretch of the Deep River it hadn’t inhabited in 85 years or perhaps even longer, thanks to the removal of an old dam near Carbonton in southern Chatham County. “The speed at which this recovery has taken place is what stands out,” said Adam Riggsbee, an environmental scientist with the company, which has headquarters in Raleigh and a branch in Greensboro. Restoration Systems coordinated demolition of the dam through early 2006 in partnership with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program. It continues to monitor 58 sites along the Deep River as part of the project, keeping track of what happens to a once-impounded river when restored to its free-flowing state. On either side of the dam, the isolated populations of Cape Fear Shiner were dwindling. Removing the dam produced results aimed at fixing that problem faster than anyone had been willing to hope, Riggsbee said. The project has breathed life into what had been a sluggish, bloated stretch of river, said company co-owner George Howard.

(Wireback, Taft, “Dam removal good news for endangered fish,”,, 10 September 2007.)