After Successful Test Blast, Removal of Klamath River’s Copco #1 Dam Moving Forward

Photo: Swiftwater Films

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) is set to make history with the removal of the Copco No. 1 Dam, marking a significant leap forward in the monumental Klamath dam removal project.

Following a successful test blast last Friday, plans are in motion to dismantle the concrete arch dam by the end of August 2024, effectively eradicating a barrier that has obstructed fish passage for over a century.

Constructed in 1918 exclusively for hydroelectric power, the Copco No. 1 Dam’s removal is a pivotal step in restoring the natural flow of the Klamath River. The unique structure of the dam allows for a safe deconstruction process, employing a combination of drilling, blasting, and chipping. Even as spring brings potential high water events, the removal strategy ensures that water can pass safely over the partially dismantled structure without compromising its stability.

This procedure contrasts with the subsequent phases planned for the Iron Gate and JC Boyle dams, which, due to their clay core earthen composition, will remain intact until the spring runoff subsides. Deconstruction of these dams is anticipated to commence in May, depending on weather conditions.

The Klamath River dam removal project stands as the largest of its kind in U.S. history, aiming to rejuvenate over 400 miles of river habitat essential for salmon and other aquatic species. By dismantling these longstanding barriers, the project promises to restore the river’s ecological balance and support the cultural and economic wellbeing of the communities and tribes that depend on it.

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