U.S. awards contract for Savage Rapids Dam removal

The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $28.3 million contract for construction of an irrigation pumping plant and removal of a major portion of Grants Pass Irrigation District’s Savage Rapids Dam.

BuRec awarded the contract Aug. 9 to Slayden Construction Group Inc. of Stayton, Ore. The entire project is to be completed by Dec. 19, 2009.

The first phase of the contract is worth $22.2 million and covers construction of a pumping plant capable of handling flows up to 150 cubic feet per second to ensure the irrigation district can continue to serve patrons once the dam is breached.

A second phase of the contract, worth $6.1 million, is to be implemented once a remaining construction easement is acquired. It will cover construction of a bridge that will support a pipe to carry part of the district’s water to patrons across the river. It also will include removal of the 39-foot-tall, 500-foot-long dam.

Savage Rapids Dam, on the Rogue River near Grants Pass, is solely an irrigation diversion dam and does not provide storage, flood control, hydropower, or navigation. After spending nearly $1 million to defend itself against lawsuits pressing for fish passage, GPID approved a 2001 settlement allowing the dam to be removed if a replacement irrigation pumping system were built for the district.

The U.S. House and the Senate Appropriations Committee have endorsed partial funding of the work in President Bush’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2007. The state of Oregon also is contributing $3 million for dam removal. Congress previously appropriated money for planning the pumping system to replace the dam, which was built in 1921.

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