The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) officially broke ground on the Klamath dam removal project on March 10. The dam removal contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West (Kiewit), is in the field preparing for reservoir drawdown and dam removal in 2024. Kiewit is currently working on pre-drawdown construction work and the rest of 2023 will be spent on the early construction work necessary to prepare for drawdown of the reservoirs beginning in January 2024, followed by removal of the dams later in 2024.
The work that is currently underway or that will be underway in the coming months includes the construction of new or improved access roads to allow Kiewit to bring the heavy construction equipment down to the base of the dams. In addition, Kiewit will be doing some work to reinforce the existing bridges that the construction equipment will be transported across, as well as constructing new bridges in the area, both for construction purposes as well as for longer time use by residents in the area. KRRC and its contractors are also in the process of developing several sites that will accommodate office spaces and lodging facilities for the construction crews.
In the coming weeks, Kiewit will get started on construction of a new water supply line for the City of Yreka. The City of Yreka water line currently sites at the bottom or Iron Gate Reservoir, however that water line must be relocated before the reservoir is drawn down and the river is restored to a free-flowing condition. Kiewit will lift the current water line out of the reservoir and will replace it with a new line that will be suspended over a newly constructed bridge located at Lakeview Road.
Looking ahead, starting in the mid-June time frame and extending into September, Kiewit will begin modifications to Copco No. 1 and Iron Gate dams to build low level outlet tunnels that will be used to drain the reservoirs and remove accumulated sediments. During the same time period, Kiewit will remove the Copco No. 2 diversion dam, the smallest of the four dams slated for removal. For a variety of engineering and construction reasons, KRRC and its contractors have determined it makes sense to get in and remove that structure prior to reservoir drawdown in 2024. KRRC will initiate the drawdown of the three reservoirs in January of 2024. KRRC will remove all four of the Lower Klamath Project dams by the end of 2024, restoring the river to a free-flowing condition through the hydroelectric reach. Restoration work will then commence immediately and continue for several years.