In ‘momentous’ act, regulators approve demolition of four Klamath River dams
Oregon Public Broadcasting | Oregon Public Media
The state of Oregon released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement Thursday for two aging dams in the Klamath River Basin. The dams hold back a portion of the water intended to irrigate farmlands.
The state has determined that the dams should be demolished because, as far as the federal government is concerned, Oregon must have the ability to operate its dams.
State officials have already completed a study to assess the health of two of the dams on the Klamath River. In 2011, they considered the dams to be in “fair” condition.
They are now considering the dams to be in “poor” condition, but want to make sure the dams will continue to operate for the next 10,000 years, or longer.
If the dams were to be torn down, it would be the first time the dams have been demolished for safety or environmental reasons.
A public scoping session on the dams is set for June 12 and the draft EIS is expected to be ready for public review sometime in August.
The dams were constructed in the 1950s at a time when the region was booming with agriculture. To meet the needs of the farms, the Klamath River Water Users Association petitioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owned the dams, to allow a portion of the river to be diverted.
After the dams were built, farmers were only allowed to divert small amounts of the Klamath River. But the dams have been the source of controversy. They have allowed water to flow through them for years and now the federal government has asked the state to begin taking steps to allow a portion of the Klamath River to be diverted for irrigation.
The state has the right to do so, and the U.S. Government issued a permit in April authorizing the state to proceed with the plan. The state will file an application to the federal government for the permit and the permit will be valid until the federal government decides otherwise. This will allow the state to begin the process of approving the permit.
The state is also still collecting public input on the