Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dams Slated for Demolition

7 more Northwest dams slated for demolition
By Warren Cornwall
Seattle Times staff reporter

At least seven Northwest dams on four rivers — all bigger than Goldsborough — could be erased in the next five years, thanks to both their age and new environmental regulation.

The most anticipated and well-publicized project is the removal of two dams on the Elwha River at the northern end of Olympic National Park.

Those dams — the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam and the 108-foot Elwha Dam — block salmon from 70 miles of virtually pristine habitat. Dismantling of the dams is expected to begin in 2009.

The dams were built in the early 20th century. By the 1980s, questions arose about licensing hydropower dams inside a national park.

The re-licensing for old hydropower dams has prompted many decisions to remove them.

Environmental regulations issued since the dams were built, combined with changing attitudes and political pressures regarding salmon and dams, have led to demands for new environmental measures — such as building new fish ladders or releasing more water into rivers — in order to get licenses renewed.

As a result, some dam owners have decided that it isn't financially feasible to keep operating the dams, said Amy Souers Kober, a spokeswoman for the environmental group American Rivers.

Other rivers with dams on the chopping block include White Salmon River, in Southwest Washington; and the Sandy, Rogue and Hood rivers in Oregon.

The first to go will be the Marmot and Little Sandy dams on the Sandy River near Portland, expected to come down next year.