Contractor to bust another dam
Rebar for a pad on which 12 electric
pumps will sit is swung into place
last week at Savage Rapids, on the
Rogue River five miles upstream from
Grants Pass, Ore. When pumps are
working in 2009, the aging irrigation
diversion dam will come out.
Slayden Construction of Stayton, Ore.,
this month got the near $9 million
federal contract to remove Chiloquin
Dam from the Sprague River in the
Slayden to remove Chiloquin Dam on Klamath
by Tam Moore, Capital Press 2/23/07
GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Slayden Construction Group
is on its way to becoming the West's dam
Already at work - and months ahead of the
contract - preparing to take out a
controversial Rogue River irrigation diversion
dam, Slayden this month got the federal
contract to remove Chiloquin Dam on a Klamath
Slayden is an experienced contractor for the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which administers
both dam removal projects.
The $28.3 million replacement of Savage Rapids
Dam on the Rogue River should be complete late
in 2009. The Chiloquin job, a near $9 million
contract, calls for dam removal during summer
Bob Hamilton, Reclamation's Savage Rapids
project engineer, said by phone from his
office in Boise that Slayden has its own ideas
on getting the project done. Reclamation's
timetable called for April construction of a
coffer dam that would allow construction of a
massive pumping station.
When the Rogue flows remained low after last
fall's irrigation season, Slayden asked for,
and received, a 30-day waiver to a state ban
on fall in-water work and put up the coffer
This week, with the pumphouse pit excavated
almost 25 feet below water level,
Superintendent Rick Blankenship said at the
job site that concrete pours for the slab
would start Feb. 20.
Savage Rapids, five miles east of Grants Pass,
is owned by Grants Pass Irrigation District.
There has been controversy over fish passage
at the diversion dam for two decades. A
federal court suit, with the state of Oregon
as a party, resulted in the agreement to
substitute pumping water from the river for
the impoundment that rises 39 feet above the
Hamilton said Oregon is paying $3 million of
the dam removal cost. Reclamation picks up
remaining costs. The Bush administration
budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1
includes $15 million to all but complete work
on the contract.
Chiloquin Dam was built by the U.S. Bureau of
Indian Affairs in 1914 to provide irrigation
water to farmland, then part of the Klamath
Indian Reservation. Ownership was transferred
to Modoc Point Irrigation District in 1973.
The controversy at Chiloquin is fish passage
for two varieties of sucker fish listed under
the Endangered Species Act.
In a news release, Steve Thompson, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service regional manager,
said dam removal will speed recovery of both
"This is a significant step in helping to
restore the traditional fishery for the
Klamath Indian Tribes," he said.
Reclamation said Slayden will move onto the
Chiloquin site in May. It will build a
downstream pumping plant for irrigators this
summer and fall, then take out the
220-foot-wide concrete diversion structure
starting in July 2008.
As in the Rogue job, the Sprague River dam
removal timetable is designed to carry out
instream work at times when migrating fish are
It's 465 feet from bank to bank at Savage
Rapids. Hamilton said dam removal in 2009 will
be in two phases, with two separate coffer
dams to separate the river from workers
carrying out demolition.