Demolition of four dams on Klamath clears major hurdle

Sep 21, 2011

The effort to remove four dams along the Klamath River has come one step closer to reality.

The U.S. Department of the Interior released a series of long-awaited environmental impact studies today which conclude that removing the dams would boost salmon runs and improve water quality.

The four dams along the Oregon-California border have been generating hydropower for nearly a century but critics have long decried their harmful effects on fish.

Steve Rothert is the California director for American Rivers. He calls the study a "huge step forward" in the effort to remove the dams.

"It really affirms and substantiates what many of us have believed and hoped for years, that this is a good path forward for the Klamath River basin," Rothert says.

The studies also note the new cost estimates for dam removal are far cheaper than previously thought.

But the report points to some downsides to dam removal. They include a small increase in flood risk and loss of reservoirs enjoyed by boaters. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has until next March to give dam removal his go-ahead.

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