Hood River dam’s days are numbered

  PacifiCorp agreed in June to remove the Powerdale Dam on the Hood River in 2010, after reaching a settlement with state and federal agencies, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, local stakeholders and environmentalists. The 80-year-old dam was due for a new federal operating license in 2000, which would have required expensive new fish screens and ladders to protect migrating salmon and steelhead. Instead, PacifiCorp cooperated with government agencies and local interests to find an alternative.

“It’s an economic decision,” says Dave Kvamme with PacifiCorp. “We would rather take the money and devote it to some other source of generation that would produce power at less cost for our customers.”

The dam will operate until 2010, while the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Warm Springs Reservation complete a study of the local fisheries and create a recovery plan. In the meantime, PacifiCorp will leave additional water in the river for fish, and will turn off the power plant’s turbines from April 15 to June 30 each year during the fish migrations. PacifiCorp also agreed to restore the area to its natural condition, cede the land associated with the dam to a public entity, give Powerdale’s water rights to the state for in-stream flow protection, and set aside more than $150,000 in a trust fund for future land maintenance.

The settlement is “a good example of how everyone can get together and find a good solution for fish, healthy rivers and the people who depend on (them),” says Amy Souers with American Rivers.