Interior Report Confirms Klamath Dam Removal Can Benefit People and Ecosystem

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A report released by the Department of Interior this week confirms that the benefits of removal of four Klamath River dams far outweigh the costs.

A summary of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) states that  the removal will increase production of Chinook salmon by 81% and open 420 miles of habitat for Steelhead and 68 miles for Coho salmon. The report also found that dam removal would cost $291 million (in 2020 dollars) as opposed to the previous estimates of $450 million.

According to the report, dam removal is expected to create 1,400 jobs during the year of removal and another 4600 over the next 15 years during the implementation of the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA), one of the two agreements that also paved way for the study. The removal is expected to cause a loss of 67 jobs.

If the dams were removed, water quality could be hugely improved by eliminating the reservoir’s toxic algal bloom and by restoring more natural river flows.

The dams currently generate enough electricity to power roughly 70,000 homes, although if the dams are retained, the additional costs from construction of required fish passage facilities, which could be substantial, will likely be passed on to ratepayers.

The Secretary will make a final decision on the fate of the dams in March 2012. Even if the dams were to be removed, actual removal will not happen until 2020.

Several members of the conservation community, including members of the Coalition have been advocating removal of the dams to restore the Klamath River basin. This report is an affirmation of the science-backed position Coalition members have taken for a long time.

Read Department of Interior’s press release and the full report.