In January, a lawsuit was won by a group of Native American and conservation groups looking to remove four dams along the Klamath River. Following the monumental win, the group has come one step closer to the dams removal with the selection of a contractor for the project.
The removal of the Klamath River dams will be the largest dam removal project in the history of the world.
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation took a major step in the Klamath river restoration project by selecting Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. of Fairfield for removal the dams. They awarded $18.1 million to the company, with an entire project estimated to cost $450 million.
“We congratulate Kiewit on its selection as the prime contractor for the removal of the dams on the Klamath River. We look forward to working with Kiewit, KRRC, and PacifiCorp to make this project happen in a timely manner. At its heart, this is the largest fish restoration project in the history of the country. Dam removal is the single best action we can take for our salmon and it will create many good-paying jobs for community members,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “Dam removal cannot come soon enough. I look forward to the day when we will never again have to worry about there not being enough fish to feed our elders or if it is safe for our children to swim in the river. I commend the KRRC for its thorough and deliberate approach to choosing Kiewit and we look forward to working with them.”
Kiewit is most recently known for its repair of the Oroville Dam spillway, which took $1 billion to repair following its collapse in February 2017.
The project comes following a monumental federal lawsuit won by the Hoopa Valley Tribe which requires PacifiCorp to adhere to mandatory requirements meant to protect the health of the Klamath River, which they have avoided for over a decade. In order to operate the dams, the company needs a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They haven’t had a license since 2006 and have instead operated on temporary licenses which enabled them to avoid completing water certifications which force modernization of the dam. Not anymore, said the court.
PacifiCorp was operating under a license from 1956, which was well before the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, fish passage provisions and water flow requirements. While the company was working on the temporary licenses, they made $27 million in profits per year.