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Removal of San Clemente Dam to protect steelhead trout

California American Water has decided to join hands with the California State Coastal Conservancy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a dam removal project, which was stalled in the earlier part of the year.

California American Water will resume the planning and engineering activities for dam removal, whose main objective is to change the course of the Carmel River so that it does not traverse the path containing the increased amount of silt left behind the San Clemente Dam.

President of California American Water, Robert MacLean expressed his pleasure in renewing the project activities as he believed it will protect the lifecycle of steelhead trout and other fauna that find a habitat in the Carmel River, aside from addressing issues related to flooding and earthquake, in response to the assertion by a California American Water consultant that the dam threatened the food and seismic safety of the vicinity.

California American Water, the State Coastal Conservancy and the NOAA have taken up the responsibility of supplying the required funds and they have also formulated an agreement with many public agencies for the acquisition and management of land around the San Clemente dam after project completion. California American Water has poured $50 million in funding into this project while NOAA and Coastal Conservancy have undertaken to raise the remaining $35 million budgeted for this expensive but indispensable venture. Both agencies are soliciting private and public funds towards this goal.

The main hurdle that was responsible for impeding previous efforts to complete this project is the identification of an establishment that could take ownership and liability associated with the dam site.

This project is contingent on receiving approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, which is the primary regulator of California American Water.

This project was taken into consideration after years of study by the Department of Water Resources and Army Corps of Engineers. As a result of this study an Environmental Impact Report was issued in December 2007. This report examined five different options, two of which included strengthening of the dam by adding a concrete support and the other was to remove the dam. Public agencies and environmental groups supported the option of removing the dam as they were interested in protecting and strengthening the ecosystem of the Carmel River.


California American Water

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