Lower Klamath Project
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Project No. 14803
(facing downstream on the Klamath River)
Picture provided by State Water Board staff
Applicant: Klamath River Renewal Corporation
FERC License Expiration Date: Not Applicable – Surrender Application
Water Quality Certification Status: Final Issued - April 7, 2020
Amendment issued – November 3, 2022
Waterbody: Klamath River
FERC Licensing Process: License Surrender
The Lower Klamath Project (Project) is located along the Klamath River, in Siskiyou County, California, and in Klamath County, Oregon. The nearest city to the California portion of the Project is Yreka, which is located 20 miles southwest of the Project’s downstream end.
On September 23, 2016, PacifiCorp and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) filed a joint application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to: separate PacifiCorp’s Klamath Hydroelectric Project (FERC Project No. 2082) facilities into two separate projects (outlined below); and transfer ownership of one of the newly created project – the Lower Klamath Project – to the KRRC.
- Lower Klamath Project consists primarily of four dams and associated facilities, listed from upstream to downstream: (1) J.C. Boyle (Oregon); (2) Copco No. 1 (California); (3) Copco No. 2 (California); and (4) Iron Gate (California).
- Klamath Hydroelectric Project consists primarily of the following facilities, listed from upstream to downstream: (1) East Side (Oregon); (2) West Side (Oregon); (3) Keno (Oregon); and (4) Fall Creek (California).
Also on September 23, 2016, the KRRC applied to FERC for permission to decommission the Lower Klamath Project in accordance with the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement. Additionally, on September 23, 2016, the KRRC applied to the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) for a water quality certification (certification) for the Project under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. On March 15, 2018, FERC approved separation of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project into two licenses, creating a new license for the Lower Klamath Project (FERC Project No. 14083).
The Project primarily consists of the decommissioning and removal of four dams (J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate) and associated facilities located in the Hydroelectric Reach (i.e., the Klamath River and tributaries from Iron Gate Dam to the upstream extent of J.C. Boyle Reservoir), to re-establish a free-flowing Klamath River and provide for volitional fish passage. The Project implements portions of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, as amended on November 30, 2016.
Additional information on the Lower Klamath Project and the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, including information beyond the scope of the State Water Board’s water quality certification process, can be found on FERC's elibrary.
Klamath River Water Quality Issues
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 state health advisories during the late summer and early fall (health advisory poster). The anadromous fish populations in the Klamath River watershed have declined significantly in recent years. Riverine conditions contributing to the decline include fish passage blockage that eliminates access to prime habitat, parasitic fish diseases in the watershed, and poor water quality. The Klamath River, and Project dam and associated facilities are listed in the California’s 2014 and 2016 California Integrated Report (Clean Water Act Section 303(d) List and 305(b) 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 microcystin, a liver toxin produced by blue-green algae.
- The Klamath River from Copco No. 1 reservoir to the Trinity River is listed for microcystin.
- The Klamath River 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 Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement
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 dam developments 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 dam developments; 2) addressed water supply and allocation issues; and 3) set forth substantial water quality improvement measures for the Upper Klamath Basin.
Lower Klamath Project Water Quality Certification
- Lower Klamath Project Final Management Plan Approval – February 1, 2023
- Water Quality Certification Amendment – November 3, 2022
- Final Water Quality Certification – April 7, 2020
- Final Environmental Impact Report - April 7, 2020
- Frequently Asked Questions – April 7, 2020
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA):
- Recirculated Portions of Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Lower Klamath Project License Surrender – December 21, 2019
- Draft Environmental Impact Report for Lower Klamath Project License Surrender Public Meeting Transcripts
- Draft Environmental Impact Report Sacramento Meeting Video - February 15, 2019
- Presentation for Draft Environmental Impact Report - February 2019
- Draft Environmental Impact Report for Lower Klamath Project License Surrender – December 27, 2018
- Public Comments Received
- Notice of Availability for Public Comment of a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Lower Klamath Project License Surrender – December 27, 2018
- Lower Klamath Project Frequently Asked Questions – December 27, 2018
- Notice of Completion - December 28, 2018
- Scoping Report for Lower Klamath Project - April 28, 2017
- Notice of Preparation Scoping Meeting Transcripts:
- Lower Klamath Project Sacramento CEQA Scoping Meeting Video
- Scoping Meeting Presentation: color | black and white
- Notice of Preparation and Scoping Meetings - December 22, 2016 (Yreka Scoping Meeting details updated January 10, 2017)
- Notice and Draft Water Quality Certification for the Lower Klamath Project - June 7, 2018
Lower Klamath Project's Water Quality Certification Application and Other Submitted Information:
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation Revised Water Quality Certification Application – December 3, 2019 (available upon request)
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation Updated Aquatic Resource Measures 7 Freshwater Mussels - October 16, 2018
- Shovel Creek Water Temperature Data - July 2, 2018
- Definite Plan - June 29, 2018
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation's Updated Project Information - June 1, 2018
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation's Updated Aquatic Resource Measures - May 16, 2018
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation's Updated Aquatic Resource Measures - May 4, 2018
- Related NOAA Fisheries and CDFW Technical Staff Recommendation for Klamath River Hatchery Operations in California Post-Dam Removal – April 26, 2018
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s Updated Project Information - January 3, 2018
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation's Response to State Water Board Information Request - September 30, 2017
- Table 3.2-3 Previously Recorded Archaeological Sites and Built Environment Resources - September 30, 2017
- State Water Board Staff's Information Request - August 25, 2017
- Klamath River Renewal Corporation Lower Klamath Project Description Additional Information - June 1, 2017
- Amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement - November 30, 2016
- State Water Board’s Acceptance of the Water Quality Certification Application - October 21, 2016
- Water Quality Certification Application - September 23, 2016
- Detailed Plan Part 1 - September 23, 2016
- Detailed Plan Part 2 - September 23, 2016
North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board:
- Water Quality Control Plan for the North Coast Region (Basin Plan) - May 2011 (please note that the Basin Plan consists of the 2011 document at the top of the page, and the various amendments approved by the Office of Administrative Law, listed at the bottom of the page)
Hoopa Valley Tribe:
State Water Board Plans and Policies:
- 2014 and 2016 California Integrated Report (Clean Water Act Section 303(d) List and 305(b) Report)
- General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Construction and Land Disturbance Activities (Construction General Permit; Water Quality Order No. 2009-0009-DWQ and NPDES No. CAS000002, as amended by Order No. 2010-0014-DWQ)
- Statewide National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit for Residual Aquatic Pesticide Discharges to Waters of the United States from Algae and Aquatic Weed Control Applications (Aquatic Weed Control Permit; State Water Board Order No. 2013-0002-DWQ and NPDES No. CAG990005, as amended by State Water Board Order No. 2014-0078-DWQ)
- Water Quality Control Policy for Siting, Design, Operation and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS Policy; State Water Board Resolution No. 2012-0032, as amended by State Water Board Resolution No. 2018-0019)
- Water Quality Control Plan for the Control of Temperature in the Coastal and Interstate Waters and the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (California Thermal Plan)
- Water Quality Control Policy for the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California