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First of Four Dams Dismantled in Largest Dam Removal in History

Klamath River Renewal Corp.

This November, all activities related to the removal of the first hydroelectric dam of four scheduled for demolition was successfully concluded, according to the dam owner, Klamath River Renewal Corp (KRRC). This project involves the dismantling of four dams situated on the Klamath River which spans parts of Oregon and California. This is the largest dam removal project in U.S. history.

The completion of the demolition of Copco No. 2, a 35-foot concrete diversion dam in California, serves as a milestone for proponents of the project. These advocates, including local tribes, expressed concerns about the destruction of habitats once abundant with salmon and steelhead trout populations in the Klamath River basin.

The removal of all four dams is anticipated to be finalized by November 2024. This will culminate more than two decades of regulatory and legal conflicts among the former dam owner, stakeholders, and states over licensing and environmental permits.

“It was a pretty ambitious goal to remove four large dams,” Craig Tucker, natural resources policy advocate for the Karuk Tribe, told ENR. “It took 20 years of hard-nosed campaigning and advocacy. In the end, [former dam owners] PacifiCorp and Berkshire Hathaway sat down and negotiated a settlement agreement with the Klamath tribes that is today leading to the biggest dam removal and restoration project in world history.”

The $450-million design-build project was awarded to Kiewit Infrastructure West in 2019 and involves restoring river channels, tributaries and reservoir footprints and is mostly funded by the States of California and Oregon, with PacifiCorp contributing $200 million. KRRC estimates Kiewit will demolish and remove 100,000 cu yd of concrete and 2,000 tons of steel, and excavate 1.3 million cu yd of earthen material.

Employing 250 to 300 workers, including local and tribal subcontractors, the primary contractor for habitat restoration is Resource Environmental Solutions. Working alongside the Yurok Tribe, the project team will undertake the planting of millions of seeds in the reservoir footprint as water recedes.

Read full story on Engineering News-Record

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