Western Farm Press Logo

Oroville builders given Klamath dam removal project

Kiewit Infrastructure West awarded $18.1 million to remove Northern California structures.

Tim Hearden, Western Farm Press

April 26, 2019

2 Min Read
Worker at Oroville Dam
A worker prepares to install concrete for new sidewalls on the middle chute of the Lake Oroville main spillway in July 2018. The project's main contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, has been given the task of removing four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River.Calif. Dept. of Water Resources

The company that just rebuilt the nearly collapsed Oroville Dam has been given an $18.1 million contract to remove four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River in Northern California and Southern Oregon.

Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. of Fairfield, Calif., was given the job by the Klamath River Renewal Corp. (KRRC), a private entity created by state and federal authorities and the dams' owner, PacifiCorp, to assume ownership of the dams and restore the river's natural flows to aid downstream fisheries.

The initial award will cover preliminary services such as design, with a further award for project implementation work to follow once design is finalized, according to officials.

“Selecting Kiewit marks another key achievement and brings KRRC closer to completing the largest dam removal and river restoration project in U.S. history," KRRC chief executive officer Mark Bransom says in a statement. "This contract will help demonstrate KRRC’s capacity to undertake the project consistent with a license transfer application pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"Once implemented, the project will help restore the vitality of the Klamath River so that it can support all communities in the basin," he says.

Discussed for years

Removal of the dams has been under discussion among local, state and federal agencies for more than a decade and generated controversy among growers in the Klamath Basin, which straddles the California-Oregon state line. Though the dams don't provide water for irrigation, some growers and political leaders fear the dams' removal will drive up energy costs and perhaps lead to reductions in water for farms.

This winter, Kiewit wrapped up a 2-year, estimated $1.1 billion project to rebuild the Oroville Dam's spillways, which nearly failed amid heavy storms in February 2017. Additional excavation, materials and other costs raised the project's price tag from the $870 million that the state Department of Water Resources had projected early last year.

For the Klamath project, Kiewit will study the project site and develop a detailed project design, including obtaining competitive bids for various elements of the work, before negotiating a guaranteed maximum price with the KRRC, according to a news release.

Kiewit has assigned Knight Piesold as the lead designer of the KRRC project. The selection of the restoration contractor will be forthcoming, the release states.

"We fully understand the breadth and importance of this undertaking and are excited and committed to safely delivering a high-quality project that meets the expectations of KRRC, the community and all key stakeholders in the region. We look forward to partnering with KRRC and getting started," says Jamie Wisenbaker, Kiewit's senior vice president.

The dams set for renewal are the Iron Gate Dam and Copco dams No. 1 and No. 2 in California's Siskiyou County and the John C. Boyle Dam near Klamath Falls, Ore.

About the Author(s)

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like