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Whitewater Flow Studies on Klamath River, Oregon

Posted: 09/20/2002
By: John Gangemi
September 13th through 17th, 2002 American Whitewater conducted Whitewater Controlled Flow Studies on two reaches of the Klamath River in Oregon: the sixteen-mile Class IV Hell's Corner Reach and the five-mile Class IV reach between the Dam and powerhouse known as the JC Boyle bypass. The studies are part of the relicensing process for PacifiCorp's Klamath River Hydropower Project, FERC No. 2082. The license for the Klamath project expires in 2006.

The Hells Corner reach is routinely used by commercial outfitters located in northern California and southern Oregon. This section of the Klamath has historically provided dependable summer whitewater flows due to the presence of the hydropower project just upstream. More recently, fluctuations in power markets associated with de-regulation have disrupted the daily schedule of releases making this reach less dependable. Desirable flows of 1 and 2 turbines are clearly defined by outfitters and private boaters alike under present hydropower operating conditions. There is no telling what restrictions will be placed on the new license. For that reason, American Whitewater along with the commercial outfitters operating on the Klamath felt a Whitewater Controlled Flow Study was necessary to clearly delineate the flow thresholds at which whitewater recreation became undesirable and even unsafe. The flow study examined flows of 700, 1000, 1300 and 1700 cfs on the Hells Corner reach. Flows less than 1000 cfs were considered undesirable.

PacifiCorp's project operations dewater the five mile JC Boyle stretch of the Klamath River below a flow suitable for whitewater recreation. This stretch between JC Boyle dam and powerhouse contains nine distinct Class IV rapids some of which are as much as a half mile in length. At the higher flows of 1300 and 1600 cfs there are numerous play features to catch on the fly as well as several play spots with eddy service. The long rapids with steep horizon lines are plenty for entertaining river runners. Overall, this reach has a creek-like appearance in a basalt canyon with ponderosa pines. The flow study examined flows of 700, 1000, 1300 and 1600 cfs on the JC Boyle reach. Flows less than 1000 cfs were considered undesirable.

American Whitewater will work with commercial outfitters, PacifiCorp and other stakeholders in the relicense proceeding developing alternative hydrographs for the new license that provide opportunities for whitewater recreation in the respective reaches. For more information or if you would like to participate in this relicense proceeding contact John Gangemi


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