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Interior releases two studies about Klamath River dam removal

The controversy surrounding the proposed removal of four dams along the Klamath River in southern Oregon and northern California has a new facet after the release of two reports by the U.S. Department of Interior.

The first report, titled "Klamath Dam Removal Overview Report for the Secretary of the Interior: An Assessment of Science and Technical Information," is the product of two years of scientific and technical studies conducted to determine the advantages and disadvantages of removing the dams as per the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).

The KHSA seeks the removal of four Klamath River hydropower plants and dams - 90.338-MW J.C. Boyle, 20-MW Copco 1, 27-MW Copco 2 and 18-MW Iron Gate - and the transfer of the non-powered Keno Dam to the Interior Department.

The report is intended to inform the public and legislators about the KHSA's economic, biological, recreational and social impacts prior to a Secretarial Determination, according to an Interior release. The report presents a synthesis of new peer-reviewed scientific studies conducted by a multi-agency technical management team, as well as other relevant existing reports.

It addresses four questions in the KHSA for the Secretary of Interior to make a fully informed determination regarding removal of the four facilities:

- Will dam removal and KBRA implementation advance salmonid and other fisheries of the Klamath Basin over a 50-year time frame?
- What would dam removal entail, what mitigation measures may be needed and what would these actions cost?
- What are the major potential risks and uncertainties associated with dam removal?
- Is dam removal in the public interest, which includes, but is not limited to, consideration of potential effects on local communities and tribes?

The report, which was released in January 2012, is available at http://klamathrestoration.gov/sites/klamathrestoration.gov/files/DDDD.SDOR.Full.1.24.12.pdf.

Interior's second report, titled "Klamath River Basin Restoration Nonuse Value Survey Final Report," is an updated version of its Economics and Tribal Summary Technical Report.

Proponents of dam removal note that this report anticipates benefits to include improved salmon and trout habitat and the creation of 1,400 construction jobs during the year it would take to remove the dams. Long term, the report indicates Klamath basin restoration could add an additional 4,600 jobs.

Meanwhile, the opposition is supported by the report's indication for increased flooding risk and a cut in electrical production. The report also puts a price tag of more than US$290 million on removal of the dams.

A summary of key conclusions from both reports is available at www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=275941

Salazar was to decide by March 31 whether Interior will recommend the dams' removal. If he does, the governors of Oregon and California will have 60 days to either concur or veto the plan.

Corps studying sediment management at Gavins Point Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lewis and Clark Lake Sediment Management Study is intended to determine whether flows provide a viable management tool for moving sediment past 132.3-MW Gavins Point Dam on the Missouri River in Nebraska and South Dakota.

The Corps estimates that 2,400 acre-feet of storage is lost in Lewis and Clark Lake each year due to sediment accumulations. This loss of storage capacity has effects on private property, fish and wildlife species and their habitat, recreation and infrastructure in the lake and river, says Paul Boyd, hydraulic engineer with the Corps' Omaha District.

The study used computer modeling to examine a variety of flow scenarios through 320-MW Fort Randall Dam, as well as Gavins Point Dam.

The Corps contracted with Colorado State University to complete the study. The study is part of the Corps' efforts to comply with conservation measures outlined in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2003 Amendment to the Biological Opinion on the Operation of the Missouri River Main Stem Reservoir System, Operation and Maintenance of the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation project, and Operation of the Kansas River Reservoir System.

The Corps also plans to carry out habitat creation activities around Gavins Point Dam as part of the Missouri River Recovery Program.

EPRI releases online generation technologies assessment tool

A new tool available on EPRI's website allows assessment of the various generation technologies available.

The Generation Technologies Assessment at www.epri.com/refcard compares construction cost, electricity cost, land use, water requirements, CO2 emissions, non-CO2 emissions, waste products, availability and flexibility of a variety of generating technologies: coal, coal with carbon capture sequestration, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar.

The assessment also shows where American electricity comes from, with 7% being contributed by hydroelectric plants in 2009. It illustrates the plants most used today in equivalent days of operation per year (how many days each generation type typically operates over the course of a year in the U.S.). On the site, nuclear leads at 336 days, while hydro is listed at 136 days and solar at only 69.

Finally, the site lists technologies by region of the U.S.: Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, South Central, Northeast and Southeast. In the Northwest, hydro represents about 50% of the total generation mix, while it is less than 10% in the South Central region.

Department to study value of Missouri River flow support

The Department of Transportation plans to hire a company to study the value of flow support that Missouri River water projects provide to users of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

Under a 2010 mandate from Congress, DOT is to work with the Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture departments to develop a comprehensive understanding of the full value of river flow support to users on the Missouri and Mississippi.

The analysis is to include:

- Energy, including hydropower and generation cooling;
- Water transport, including total transportation congestion, transportation energy efficiency, air quality, and carbon emissions; and
- Water users, including the number and distribution of people, municipalities and businesses throughout the Missouri and Mississippi basins that use river water for multiple purposes.

Congress called for DOT to develop recommendations on how to minimize impediments to growth and to maximize water value of benefits related to energy production and efficiency, congestion relief, trade and transport efficiency, and air quality.

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