Dam Removal

River Design Group

Evans Creek is barely a trickle. A dry summer in Southern Oregon means the important salmon and steelhead creek, a tributary of the Rogue River, disappears below the gravel bed in places. Seemingly stagnant isolated pools are all that remain in some areas.

D. Kvamme PacifiCorp

More dams are being removed from rivers as they get older and no longer produce hydropower. Researchers have found after these dams come down, rivers return to their natural state surprisingly fast.

Over the years lots of sediment backs up behind dams. Ecologists have worried the release of that sediment would harm habitat and cause flooding.

But a study from Oregon State University found that didn’t happen. Researchers studied two rivers in Oregon before and after dams were removed.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

This week the Elwha River – on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula – will flow freely once again. Two dams blocked the river for more than 100 years.

But thanks to the largest dam removal project in U.S. history, the lower dam is completely gone and the last 30 feet of the upper dam should be blown up Tuesday.

Our EarthFix reporter, Ashley Ahearn, headed out to the Elwha and reports that the river is returning to life.

Advocates For Klamath Dams' Removal Rally In Portland

May 31, 2013

Groups from Southern Oregon and Northern California rallied outside Senator Ron Wyden’s office in Portland Thursday.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Interior Department today recommended removing four dams on the Klamath River by the year 2020. The dam removal is proposed as part of a settlement to end the water wars in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

An agreement to remove four dams on the Klamath River has suffered a political and symbolic setback. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports Klamath County has voted to pull out of the agreement.

D. Kvamme / PacifiCorp

Federal regulators have granted a short extension to complete the removal of Condit Dam on southwest Washington's White Salmon River. Originally, demolition crews were supposed to be done with the nearly year-long project by August 31.

Photo courtesy of Pend Oreille PUD

Another Northwest dam is one step closer to biting the dust. Mill Pond Dam is in the far northeastern corner of Washington state. The obsolete hydroelectric dam is just more than 100 feet long and 55 feet high.