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Ebb and Flow

This rendering shows the proposed wildlife overpass above the 101 Freeway near Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills. (Resource Conservation District)
This rendering shows the proposed wildlife overpass above the 101 Freeway near Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills. (Resource Conservation District)

5 Reasons Dam Removal Still Makes Sense Despite the Drought

Published by KCET on March 22, 2016 – written by Chris Clarke

When Interior Secretary Donald Hodel suggested in 1987 that California might tear down O’Shaughnessy Dam in Yosemite National Park, few took him seriously. The powers that be in San Fransisco were outraged: the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir supplies San Francisco with its drinking water. Even the radical environmentalists who sometimes talked about removing dams like Glen Canyon mistrusted Hodel, saying that he was likely trying to manipulate greens into supporting the controversial Auburn Dam as an alternative to Hetch Hetchy. The era of building big dams was just ending, and the thought of removing them was so far off the radar that Hodel just wasn’t taken seriously. 

Flash forward 30 years, and dams are starting to fall across the west. Two huge dams on the Elwha River in Washington State came down in 2011. The San Clemente Dam in Monterey County is coming down from the Carmel River. Four dams on the Klamath River are so ripe for removal that their owner intends to take them out even if the state and federal governments aren’t on board. In Southern California, the handwriting is on the wall for the Rindge Dam on Malibu Creek and the Matilija Dam on the Ventura River.  MORE