In ‘momentous’ act, regulators approve demolition of four Klamath River dams
This story published December 1, 2015, at 5:00 a.m. PDT. It was last updated at 8:32 p.m. PDT on December 7.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the demolition of four dams on the Klamath River, in order to restore salmon, steelhead and other native fish species that have been depleted by decades of damming, said officials with the San Joaquin Division of the Corps.
The decision on the dams’ fate — their removal from service — marks the first time in the history of these high water projects that the Corps has approved the removal of a dam that will not be needed in the future.
The Corps earlier this year approved the removal of two dams, one of them in the San Joaquin, that will close this month, officials said. They will be replaced with water transfer projects.
“The time is right to remove these four dams as part of the broader regional river system restoration effort,” agency senior river coordinator and chief executive officer for the San Joaquin Division Scott Shugart said in a written statement.
“We look forward to removing dams that will not be needed in the San Joaquin River’s future,” he said, noting that the removal of the four will improve salmon and other fish habitats that are already depleted by dam construction in the past half century.
The four dams that the Corps deemed “legally necessary” are the Mowich Dam on the Klamath River in northern California; the San Luis Dam near San Luis Obispo County; the South River Powerhouse Dam in Modoc County; and the South Folsom Dam in Contra Costa County.
The agency began a study to examine the possibility of removing the four dams over two years. A decision on whether to remove each dam is expected in the next six months.
The five dams were the focus of a decadeslong conservation campaign by the Service, which was created in the 1960s to manage and preserve the nation’s streams, rivers and wetlands. At its height, the Service counted more than 1,000 dams along the nation’s waterways, according to the agency