On January 23rd, 2024, a significant milestone was achieved in the removal of the Copco 1 dam on the Klamath River. A 12 ft. diameter tunnel was successfully blasted at the base of the dam, marking the start of the reservoir drawdown process. This action led to the release of an estimated 4000 cubic feet per second of water and sediment.
During the previous summer, a significant effort was made to prepare for the dam removal. Crews blasted a 90 ft. adit tunnel at the base of the dam and inserted pipe, which was further reinforced with boulders and 1000 yards of concrete.
To fully set the river free, 800 lbs. of dynamite was deployed to blast the remaining concrete plug. As a result, a surge of water traveled several miles beyond the former Copco 2 dam and the renowned Wards Canyon, which had largely been devoid of water for a century. The unleashed flow eventually found its way into newly formed river channels within the former Iron Gate Reservoir.
This exciting development paves the way for the complete removal of the Copco 1 dam by the end of 2024.
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