Company selected for Klamath dam removal

Skye Kinkade

Although opponents of dam removal continue to insist the project is far from a done deal, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation is moving forward with its plans, announcing last week that they’ve hired a Fairfield company to remove four dams along the Klamath River and restore the area afterward.

Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. has extensive experience in major construction projects, KRRC said in a press release. The company recently reconstructed the Oroville Dam spillways, which involved the removal and repair of two main flood control and emergency spillways on California’s tallest reservoir, as well as the removal of debris and sediment in less than 18 months.

The entire dam removal project is estimated at $450 million. Kiewit’s initial award authorizes $18.8 million in “preliminary services,” according to a press release from KRRC, which includes design, planning, permitting support, native seed bank development and other preparation for the later drawdown of the reservoirs.

This work will begin immediately, KRRC said.

KRRC said they intend to use the “Progressive Design-Build” delivery method, in which Kiewit would assume responsibility for both the design and execution of dam removal and river restoration in two phases.

A further award for the project’s actual implementation would come after these tasks are complete, beginning with “the drawdown of the reservoirs, road and bridge access improvements to accommodate construction vehicle traffic and bridge and culvert improvements to accommodate new river and creek geometry.”

Following reservoir drawdown, project implementation continue with removing the dams, removing recreation facilities that are no longer needed, creating new recreation facilities and restoration of “formerly inundated land and other disturbed areas,” or in simpler terms, the areas where the reservoir currently sits.

KRRC called the selection of Kiewit “another key achievement” and said it brings them “closer to completeing the largest dam removal and river restoration project in history.”

Knight Piesold has been assigned as the lead designer of the KRRC project and a restoration contractor will be forthcoming, KRRC said.

“We are very proud to have been selected by KRRC,” said Kiewit’s vice president Jamie Wisenbaker. “This project has many similarities to other complex water and hydroelectric projects we’ve delivered across North America ... we fully understand the breadth and importance of this undertaking and are excited and committed to safely delivering a high-quality product that meets the expectations of KRRC, the community and all key stakeholders in the region.”

“Kiewit has every technical skill in the world to get the job done, but beyond that, they just feel like the right fit,” said KRRC board president Lester Snow.