The Klamath River Renewal Corporation awarded an $18.1-million contract April 24 for preliminary services to remove four Klamath River dams.

The nonprofit organization--formed to take ownership of four PacifiCorp dams and remove them--entered into a dam removal design-build contract with Kiewit Infrastructure West of Fairfield, Calif., according to a news release from KRRC. A further award to Kiewit to remove the dams is expected to follow once the design is finalized, it said.

"This contract will help demonstrate KRRC's capacity to undertake the project consistent with a license transfer application pending before [FERC]," KRRC's CEO Mark Bransom said in the release.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has yet to approve a transfer of the dam licenses from PacifiCorp, or a plan to remove the dams, which include J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron Gate. Earlier this month, KRRC requested a three-month extension for submitting responses to questions posed by an independent board of consultants on the company's plan, and FERC approved that request April 18.

According to KRRC, Kiewit has extensive experience in major construction projects, including an emergency reconstruction of the Oroville Dam spillways involving removal and repair of both the main flood control and emergency spillways in less than 18 months, as well as debris and sediment removal and development of access roads.

Other relevant projects that Kiewit has completed include the Folsom Dam spillway construction, East Toba and Montrose Hydroelectric design-build, and the Kwalsa and Upper Stave Hydroelectric design-build.

Under the agreement, Kiewit will use a progressive design-build method, assuming responsibility for the design and execution of dam removal and river restoration, the news release said. Preliminary services include design, planning, permitting support, native seed bank development and preparation for a later drawdown of reservoirs, it said.

The implementation phase of the contract is contingent on FERC approval and other regulatory permits.

"Kiewit has every technical skill in the world to get the job done, but beyond that, they just feel like the right fit," Bransom said in a statement. "Kiewit also comes to the project with relevant experience, including with the states of California and Oregon, as well as PacifiCorp (a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company), through successfully completed construction projects as well as other business relationships."

K.C. Mehaffey covers fish issues for Clearing Up, and is editor of the NW Fishletter. She joined the NewsData writing team in February 2018. From lawsuits to scientific studies, she is enjoying the deep dive into the Columbia Basin's many fish topics.