U.S. group cites dams for some endangered rivers

American Rivers cited dams, including one hydropower project, as reasons for listing a handful of the rivers on its 2007 list of ten “most endangered” rivers.

The Santa Fe River in New Mexico tops the 2007 list. American Rivers said the river lacks water and for most of the year is nothing more than a dry, weed-choked ditch. It blames the city of Santa Fe’s water storage dams — the first built in 1881 — and irrigation diversions for drying up the 42-mile tributary to the Rio Grande. The group urged the city to begin minimal releases into the river and to purchase water rights on behalf of the river.

American Rivers said its list highlights rivers facing the most uncertain futures rather than those experiencing the most chronic problems. None of this year’s rivers was carried over from 2006, when American Rivers declared the Pajaro River in central California the “most endangered” due to gravel mining, development, and levee construction. (HNN 4/27/06)

Washington’s White Salmon River, location of 13.7-MW Condit Dam, was ranked fifth on the list. Condit Dam is the only hydroelectric project cited in the list, released April 17.

The group said Condit Dam (No. 2342) has cut off salmon and steelhead from an important Columbia River tributary for nearly a century. Although dam owner PacifiCorp has agreed to remove the project, American Rivers noted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to approve the deal. In 2006, NOAA Fisheries issued a biological opinion finding no jeopardy to species from a plan to remove Condit Dam as part of a 1999 settlement. (HNN 10/27/06)

American Rivers said FERC �must issue a dam removal order that respects a carefully negotiated multi-party settlement agreement calling for dam removal in 2008.�

The organization also cited proposed dams for listing the Neches River in Texas, ranking it sixth, and Lee Creek in Arkansas and Oklahoma, ranking it ninth.

The group complained the Texas Legislature might authorize construction of Fastrill Reservoir, which would inundate 40 miles of the Neches River for water storage. (HNN 6/5/06) It added that a proposed dam also would inundate Lee Creek and open many Arkansas rivers and streams to �similar obliteration.�

Other rivers making the 2007 list, including ranking, states, and threats identified, are: 2. San Mateo Creek in California, highway construction; 3. Iowa River in Iowa, sewage pollution; 4. Upper Delaware River in New York, power line construction; 7. Kinnickinnic River in Wisconsin, sediment; 8. Neuse River in North Carolina, sewage pollution; and 10. Chuitna River in Alaska, mine waste.

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