NEWS WORTH NOTING: California, Oregon herald significant step toward Klamath River restoration

California, Oregon Herald Significant Step toward Klamath River Restoration

California’s Draft Environmental Impact Report and Oregon’s Final Water Quality Certification Seen as Milestones

From the California Natural Resources Agency:

Natural resources leaders in California and Oregon hailed today’s release of a draft environmental impact report for a project to reopen hundreds of miles of historic habitat for salmonids along the Klamath River and its tributaries.

The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River. The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes, water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching heritage.

“Today’s developments move us closer to the goal of removing the four dams and restoring natural and ecological function within the Klamath River watershed,” California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said. “This project is our best opportunity to heal the Klamath River and solve water quality and fisheries problems that have affected Klamath Basin communities for decades.”

“The removal of the Klamath River dam complex is a significant step in ensuring our communities and future generations have access to the resources provided by a healthy Klamath River watershed,” Oregon Water Quality Administrator Justin Green said. “I commend everyone who has contributed to advancing this ambitious project and look forward to continued coordination between Oregon and California.”

The draft environmental impact report looks at potential impacts associated with the Lower Klamath Project, proposed by the non-profit Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) to decommission and remove three hydroelectric dams in California and one in Oregon to create a free-flowing Klamath River and restore access to historic habitat for fish. The project also will improve water quality and create a more natural temperature regime in the Klamath River.

KRRC has applied for a water quality certification from the State Water Resources Control Board for the project, which is a necessary step in securing approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The federal Clean Water Act requires states to certify that anything released into the nation’s waters – including water releases from removal of a hydroelectric dam – complies with water quality standards.

The State Water Board released a draft water quality certification in June. Issuance of a final certification requires review under the California Environmental Quality Act. Since the project includes removal of dams in both California and Oregon, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a final water quality certification for removal of the Oregon dam in September. KRRC’s applications to transfer and surrender the dam licenses to proceed with dam removal are pending with FERC.

Comments on State Water Board’s draft environmental impact report will be accepted through noon February 26. Details are available on the State Water Board’s Lower Klamath Project page.

Statement from Klamath River Renewal Corporation CEO Mark Bransom

“Mark Bransom, Chief Executive Officer for the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC), issued the following statement in response to the December 27 release of the California State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for removal of the Klamath River dams in California.

“This draft report is a key step to completing this critical project and rehabilitating one of the great rivers of the American west. It’s a sign of meaningful progress and I look forward to a thorough KRRC review of the report and its proposals.

“KRRC is pleased that after considering the full range of project benefits and impacts, the DEIR looked favorably on the Proposed Project.

“As the designated lead agency for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) on the Klamath project, the SWRCB must conduct this CEQA analysis before it can issue a final Clean Water Act Section 401 permit to the KRRC for removal of the three dams in California. The 401 permit is one of several regulatory permits and approvals KRRC requires to proceed with dam removal, in addition to FERC’s approval of KRRC’s applications for transfer and surrender of the hydroelectric license.”

The DEIR evaluates potential environmental impacts of the Lower Klamath Project and includes proposed measures to avoid, mitigate, or offset those impacts. The DEIR will be available for public review and comment until February 26, 2019. SWRCB will evaluate and consider all responses and comments as it develops its final EIR, which is expected to be released in Summer 2019.

A complete copy of the DEIR is available at http://www.klamathrenewal.org/deir/

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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