PacifiCorp is a utility company which provides service to 1.6 million people in the western United States. These customers reside in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Approximately 70,000 of these customers receive electricity thanks to the company’s four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River.
However, these dams have been found to be the root of many salmon woes on the West Coast. When the commercial salmon fisheries collapsed in the year 2006, the collapse was attributed to the dams. The Klamath River, before dams, was the third-largest salmon run in the West.
In addition to the salmon issues, the dams have been singled out as the cause of numerous other problems in the area. The dams are actually the main cause of water temperatures being too high for fish in the river. Also, the dam’s reservoirs are actually producing toxic algae.
Numerous groups rallied against the dams and the company to fight the environmental issues surrounding them. These groups included American Indian tribes, conservation groups, the state of California and the state of Oregon and several federal agencies. An agreement was recently made between these groups and PacifiCorp to remove all four hydroelectric dams.
However, there are numerous other hurdles to overcome before the dams are removed. The government is expected to determine whether the removal will in fact assist the salmon recovery and there will also be authorization required from Congress. In addition, the funding for the removal will need to be attained. The states of California and Oregon are expected to assist predominantly in the costs. If all goes as planned, the dams will be removed in 2020.