Rubble from Copco No. 1 Dam Blast Temporarily Blocks Outlet, Raises Reservoir Level

A blast conducted as part of the removal of the Copco No. 1 Dam on the Klamath River resulted in large concrete rubble partially blocking the dam’s low-level outlet pipe, causing the reservoir level to rise approximately 10 feet. The incident occurred on April 2nd and was reported to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and its contractors.

Immediately after the blast, Kiewit and McMillen, the firms overseeing the dam removal, inspected the area and identified the blockage. Equipment was quickly mobilized to the base of the dam to remove the rubble and clear the outlet pipe, allowing the reservoir to return to its previous level.

In a letter to FERC, Klamath River Renewal Corporation CEO Mark Bransom detailed the incident and the response actions taken. FERC Regional Engineer Douglas Johnson acknowledged the “expedient and appropriate” actions by the contractors in the days following the incident.

To prevent future incidents as the removal project proceeds, FERC concurred with recommendations proposed by the Renewal Corporation and its contractors. These include performing smaller blasts to start, using fewer hole delays, having equipment operators on standby to decrease response times, completing blasts before 4:00pm, and finishing construction to fully open the diversion tunnel prior to additional blasts.

The Copco No. 1 Dam is one of four dams on the Klamath River slated for removal to restore fish passage. The reservoir drawdown and removal process is being closely monitored by FERC and state agencies in Oregon and California to ensure public safety and environmental protection.


One Comment

  1. Are you aware of the USGS flow reporting station just west of Iron Gate Dam? It appears that the blockage occurred in March, not April 2nd.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *