Impacts of Reservoir Drawdown and Dam Removal
Drawdown of the J.C. Boyle, Iron Gate, and Copco reservoirs may affect groundwater levels in the immediate vicinity of the reservoirs. However, based on the work the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) and its consultants have done to date many area wells are not hydrologically connected to the reservoirs and, as a result, will not be impacted by dam removal. However, other wells may be affected by reservoir drawdown. Drawdown of the reservoirs could also result in areas of instability around the reservoir rims. Dam removal will also nominally increase in the risk of flooding for dwellings located in the first 18 miles downstream from the current site of Iron Gate Dam. KRRC has a plan to mitigate these unavoidable impacts.
Compensation to Homeowners
A critical component of the Klamath River Renewal Project (Project) is fair treatment for individuals whose properties could be affected by removal of four hydroelectric dams. KRRC is committed to a transparent and collaborative process to address such potential impacts.
KRRC is voluntarily proposing a process to proactively address physical property damages demonstrated to be caused by our project. We plan to establish a “Local Impact Mitigation Fund” (LIMF) in which impacted parties can participate. The LIMF would address demonstrated property damages through settlements with willing property owners even when such damages may not be legally required. The LIMF will cover damages such as reduced well production, issues associated with instability around the reservoir rims, and certain minor increases in the risk of flooding for dwellings downstream from the dams.
KRRC will select an independent person to administer the fund (the Fund Administrator). We have been asked if funding information for the LIMF will be made public. Yes! Depending on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process, we anticipate that the Fund Administrator will conduct town halls and seek public feedback and welcome your views. After such consultation the Fund Administrator will establish claim-related funding criteria as well as an overall fund amount and then enter into direct discussions with property owners regarding compensation for potential property damages.
The funding criteria (including amounts) will be consistent with applicable law, including the legal requirements for our public funding. Once the LIMF is finalized, the Fund Administrator will oversee the fund and make compensation decisions independent of KRRC. Each property owner will elect whether to enter into a settlement with the Fund Administrator.
KRRC is not authorized to spend public funds to compensate property owners for a real or perceived loss in property value that does not involve physical damages. KRRC understands possible confusion over this issue because the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (2010), known as the KBRA, included a line item to provide compensation for such loss of property value, but Congress did not authorize the KBRA and that agreement is not in effect.
KRRC will comply with all regulatory requirements, including permit conditions related to impacts on the environment. And we will also address demonstrated impacts on local properties outside of the permit conditions. This approach has been used with other complex projects elsewhere, resolving damage claims in a fair, transparent, and timely manner. KRRC is pleased to employ this tested and effective model of compensating affected property owners.