However, this development is less significant than in 2015, when the removal of the dike was only one part of a large plan for the Klamath Basin, which extends beyond the California-Oregon border. This plan included the restoration of salmon living areas, the return of tribal lands and the sharing of water between peasants, ranchers and tribes. It was the result of a decade of honest and trusting negotiations between representatives of the basin`s constituencies, whose efforts have transformed one of the country`s most controversial watersheds into a model of cooperation. This has helped to ensure that money does not distort the process: most of the inhabitants of the basin are far from rich, and the only company involved is PacifiCorp, the distribution company that owns the dams. In the United States, dams can offer many benefits, including water supply, hydroelectricity and flood protection. Dams are also an important part of building long-term resilience to protect our communities and our economy from the effects of drought. However, there are tens of thousands of dams in the United States that no longer serve their purpose and have become a burden on local communities, a threat to public health and safety, which are no longer economically viable and are an obstacle to the health of ecosystems. That`s why the Obama administration believes in a balanced approach to dam assessment that assesses new water storage opportunities, which are economically and environmentally sound, while examining the possible removal of existing dams on a case-by-case basis. The main factors to consider in assessing a possible separation distance are: there are social benefits for the maintenance of dams, the owner agrees that they should be removed, their distance is economically reasonable, and there are environmental benefits that must be achieved through their disposal. In line with this case-by-case approach, Interior Minister Sally Jewell today sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in which she offered her support for the elimination of four PacificCorp dams on the Klamath River. These dams, built at the beginning of the 20th century, provided hydroelectricity, which was an important part of the development of the region. However, because of the cost of the re-licensing, their owner made a business decision that it is economically better to remove these dams than to obtain them, a decision supported by municipal services in California and Oregon.
The Reclamation Act of 1902 (43 U.S.C 391 s.) authorized the Minister of the Interior to locate, build, operate and maintain water storage, diversion and development work for the recovery of dry and semi-arid countries in Western countries. The Klamath project currently includes several dams that are used for irrigation and flood protection in the upper Klamath basin. What began as a familiar debate between supporters of the benefits of taming the river and supporters of its free journey is evolving.