Nat Pennington and Amy Stercho
PacifiCorp’s 50-year operational license expires in 2006 and the Federal Energy Regulating Committee (FERC) is in the process of gathering information and holding public hearings related to the relicensing. They hope to have a draft EIS completed by July of 2005. PacifiCorp, in their application for relicensing, stated that they would not put in fish ladders on the lower three dams, but they would research the option of trucking fish past the dams.
Both the National Research Council (NRC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) strongly encourage studying the effects of dam removal. At the 2004 Lower Klamath Basin Science Conference a representative of the CEC stated that the restoration value of dam removal far outweighs the small amount of energy generated by these dams. Tribal representatives, river communities, and commercial fisherman alike are nearly unified in support of decommissioning at least some of the five dams. Over 200 people, most of whom voiced their opinion that the dams should come down, attended FERC’s June public hearing in Eureka.
Dam removal is of course not an easy process by any means and much research must be done before the process can be considered; however, studies are underway. These studies and support for dam decommissioning are being fueled by distress over recent and considerable fish kills of both adult and juvenile salmonids. Hope is that further research on the impacts of the dams on flow and temperature downriver, sediment and water quality in the reservoirs and the consequences of dam removal will lead to a greater understanding of what steps must be taken to improve water quality and spawning habitat. These studies are necessary to increase the health and abundance of native fisheries.
Scoping comments can be submitted in writing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by July 22, 2004. All correspondence must clearly show at the top of the first page: “Klamath Hydroelectric Project, FERC No. 2082-027.” Send your comments and any other information about the project to: