Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project No. 2082

Klamath River Hydroelectric Project

Copco No. 1 Dam Copco No. 1 Dam
(Picture provided by State Water Board staff)

Applicant: PacifiCorp
Counties: Klamath and Siskiyou Counties
License Expiration Date: March 1, 2006
Water Quality Certification Status: Application withdrawn on June 23, 2016
Waterbodies: Klamath River and Fall Creek
FERC Licensing Process: Abeyance as of June 16, 2016

Project Description:

The Klamath Hydroelectric Project (Project) is owned and operated by PacifiCorp and is located primarily along the mainstem Klamath River, in Siskiyou County, California, and in Klamath County, Oregon.  The California portion of the Project includes three mainstem dams (Iron Gate, Copco No.1, and Copco No.2), and a small hydroelectric facility on Fall Creek (a tributary to the Klamath River).  The Oregon portion of the Project includes two mainstem dams (J.C. Boyle and Keno), and two power generation facilities (East Side and West Side) [Project Map].  The nearest cities are Klamath Falls (located at the northern end of the Project area) and Yreka (located approximately 20 miles southwest of the Project’s downstream end).

On February 23, 2004, PacifiCorp filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposing to: 1) remove Keno from the Project; 2) decommission East Side and West Side powerhouses; and 3) relicense the five remaining facilities for continued operations in a manner similar to past operations with the addition of environmental measures. 

On June 16, 2016, at the request of PacifiCorp, FERC issued an order placing PacifiCorp’s relicensing of the Project in abeyance.  On June 23, 2016, following FERC’s abeyance order, PacifiCorp formally withdrew its Clean Water Act section 401 water quality certification applications from the states of Oregon and California to allow time for PacifiCorp to transfer ownership of the Project to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC).  If the FERC abeyance terminates, PacifiCorp will be required to resubmit water quality certification applications to the State Water Resources Control Board and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality for the Project.

On September 23, 2016, PacifiCorp and KRRC filed with FERC a joint license transfer application seeking to transfer J.C. Boyle; Copco No. 1; Copco No. 2; and Iron Gate facilities to the KRRC.  Concurrent with PacifiCorp’s license transfer application, the KRRC filed a license surrender application, for the newly named Lower Klamath Project (FERC No. 14803).  Additional information on the Project and the Lower Klamath Project, beyond the scope of the State Water Board’s water quality certification process, can be found on FERC’s elibrary

The Lower Klamath Project also has an active water quality certification application with California and Oregon.  Information on the Lower Klamath Project’s California water quality certification application process can be found on the State Water Board’s Lower Klamath Project webpage.

Water Quality Issues associated with California Portions of the Klamath River

Blue-green algal blooms occur yearly in the Klamath River and in Iron Gate and Copco reservoirs.  One species, Microcystis aeruginosa (microcystis), produces microcystin a liver toxin and has led to annual issuance of California health advisories during the late summer and early fall (heath advisory poster).  The anadromous fish populations in the Klamath River watershed have declined significantly in recent years, which may be related to various factors including fish passage blockage, parasitic fish diseases in the watershed, and poor water quality.  The Klamath River and Project facilities are listed in the California’s 2012 CWA Section 303(d) List of Impaired Water Bodies (2012 Integrated Report) as follows:

  • The Klamath River from the Oregon border to the Pacific Ocean is listed for nutrients, organic enrichment/low dissolved oxygen, and temperature. 
  • Iron Gate and Copco No. 1 reservoirs are listed for mercury and for a liver toxin produced by blue-green algae, called microcystin.
  • The Klamath River from Copco No. 1 reservoir to the Trinity River is listed for microcystin.
  • The Klamath from the Trinity River to the Pacific Ocean is listed for sediment.
  • The Klamath River from Iron Gate Dam to the Scott River is listed for aluminum.

Klamath Settlement Agreements

On February 18, 2010, PacifiCorp, several state, federal, and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, individual stakeholders and Native American tribes executed the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).  The State Water Board is not a signatory to, and is not bound by, the KHSA.  The KHSA seeks to return the Klamath River to free-flowing conditions and provide volitional fish passage in the portion of the Klamath River currently occupied by the Project’s dams and associated facilities. The originally executed KHSA proposed federal legislation that would have halted PacifiCorp’s Klamath Hydroelectric Project FERC relicensing process and granted the Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior the authority to determine whether removing J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate facilities was in the public interest and would advance salmon restoration.  In 2016, the KHSA was amended to remove the need for congressional authorization, and to pursue dam removal through the FERC license surrender process. 

Four other settlement agreements were executed by a number of parties with varying interests in the Klamath Basin: 1) Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement; 2) Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement; and 3) Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement; and 4) Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement. The KHSA and these settlement agreements, among other things: 1) provided a decision-making framework and process for removal of J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate facilities; 2 addressed water supply and allocation issues; and 3) set forth substantial water quality improvement measures for the Upper Klamath Basin.

Related Documents

2015 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA):

Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement:

Amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement – November 30, 2016

Amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement – April 6, 2016

2016 Agreement in Principal – February 2, 2016

Klamath Facilities Removal Draft EIS/EIR:

Requests for Abeyance & Restart of Water Quality Certification Process, Associated Correspondence & Resolutions:

Klamath Agreement-in-Principal Status Report:

2008 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA):

Klamath Hydroelectric Project 401 Water Quality Certification Applications:

2008 Water Quality Study Plan:

Proposed 2008 Study Plans

2008 Study Plan Correspondence

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA):

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board:

Klamath River Studies: