Historic Moment Unfolds as First Klamath River Dam Begins Deconstruction

Photo from the Klamath River Renewal Corporation Facebook page

In a major step towards complete environmental restoration of the Klamath River, the deconstruction process for Copco No. 2, the smallest of the four hydroelectric dams on the river, has officially begun. This week, crews managed to remove the gates, walkway, and two of the five bays down to the spillway, setting the stage for an extensive summer of work.

This marks a major milestone in the largest dam removal project in the history of the United States.

“While this is just the first step, it certainly is an exciting moment,” said Mark Bransom, CEO of the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC). “Crews are making fast progress in these early stages of the project, and we are on track with our removal timeline.”

In order to reach the gates and bays for deconstruction, crews strategically placed around 10 feet of rock on either side of the dam. Despite these initial steps, much of the Copco No. 2 infrastructure still remains intact below the rock surface. The deconstruction work will continue throughout the summer months, with the final decommissioning and complete removal of the dam expected to occur in September.

“We are pleased that we were able to make so much progress this week,” noted Dan Petersen, Kiewit’s Project Manager overseeing the removal of Copco No. 2 “But removing Copco No. 2 is still not a done deal. We expect to officially wrap up this phase of the dam removal project sometime in September.”

Looking forward to the next phase of this extensive project, the other three dams — Iron Gate, Copco No. 1, and JC Boyle — are scheduled to be removed next year. The process is set to commence with the drawdown of the reservoirs in January of 2024. Following this, the incremental deconstruction of these dams will continue throughout the year, with the entire construction activity expected to conclude sometime in late 2024.

This represents a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to restore the Klamath River, demonstrating the commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development.

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