November 13, 2008

Pact Reached on Klamath Dam Removal Study

PacifiCorp said Thursday it had reached an agreement with state and federal officials that could lead to eventual removal of four dams on the Klamath River.

The agreement in principle sets up a process through which the dams will presumably be transferred to the federal government, which could then begin the process of having them torn down.

The four dams provide electricity and irrigation water to customers in the California-Oregon border region. At the same time, they also impede salmon migrations.

Environmentalists, American Indian tribes and other critics have said razing the dams would restore the Klamath to a more-natural state and revive the salmon fishery.

"The health of the Klamath River is critical to the livelihood of numerous Northern California communities, and with this groundbreaking agreement we have established a framework for restoring an important natural resource for future generations," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a written statement.

The agreement requires the federal government to foot the bill for a cost-benefit analysis of removing the dams and then make a determination in 2012 on whether the dams should be taken down or if PaficiCorp should be allowed to keep them in place and seek a new power-generation license.