To help save endangered salmon, officials are considering making costly improvements to dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon. Removing the dams would cost less than fixing them, but removal forfeits their hydroelectric power production.
"The cost of such improvements could reach $470 million, as much as $285 million more than the cost of removing the dams and replacing their electricity for the next 30 years, according to a government study."
"That vast cost discrepancy could put pressure on the power company - a subsidiary of billionaire Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway empire - to negotiate a truce with Indian tribes, fishermen and environmentalists pushing for demolition of the towering structures."
"Activists say decommissioning the hydropower project, which produces enough electricity to light 70,000 homes, could help restore health to a river system hit by water quality problems, fish-killing diseases, diversions for farming and other woes."
"'This would represent the largest and most ambitious dam removal project in the country, if not the world,' said Steve Rothert of the environmental group American Rivers. 'Some dams have been taller, but these on the Klamath cast a bigger footprint on the landscape; 350 miles of upstream habitat would be reopened.'"