State & federal officials sign agreement for Klamath River Basin restoration

Courtesy, Associated Press

Officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce, states of Oregon and California and PacifiCorp signed legislation today that will lead to the removal of four dams on the Klamath River by 2020.

The 2016 Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement (KPFA), hailed as one of the largest river restoration efforts in U.S. history, was designed in a process administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and is intended to restore fish habitat along the Klamath River.

“This agreement is an important initial step as we work toward a comprehensive set of actions to advance long-term restoration and sustainability for tribes, fisheries, and agriculture and water users across the Klamath Basin,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said.

Jewell signed the KPFA alongside California Gov. Edmund Brown, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Kathryn Sullivan and Pacific Power CEO Stefan Bird at a ceremony at the Klamath’s mouth on the Yurok Indian Reservation.

Per the plan, licenses to operate the 90-MW J.C. Boyle, 20-MW Copco, 1.27-MW Copco 2 and 18-MW Iron Gate hydroelectric plants and their associated dams will be transferred from PacifiCorp to a private company known as the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. KRRC will oversee their removal, while PacifiCorp continues to operate the projects until they are decommissioned.

“PacifiCorp continues to support the Klamath settlement as a fair way forward for our electricity customers in Oregon, California and beyond,” Bird said. “The company is committed to continuing to work with our settlement partners to fully enact this important agreement.”

The agreement is the culmination of a process that officially began in February 2010, when more than 40 entities signed the Klamath River Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).

The KHSA called for a “robust scientific and environmental evaluation of the potential removal of these facilities,” Interior said, with other emphases including a large-scale effort to restore natural fish production, establish reliable water and power supplies, and support communities along the river.

“These agreements are more than ink and paper,” Gov. Brown said. “They are a roadmap to a future of the Klamath Basin and of the people who live there. I’m proud to be part of a plan that invokes the spirit of collaboration to ensure the recovery of the Klamath’s historic fishing grounds while sustaining the region’s farming and ranching heritage.”

Funding for the removal project will come from PacifiCorp customers in Oregon and California, along with a bond passed by voters in California in 2014.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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