Cooperation Leads to Breakthrough Restoration on Carmel River

On Monday, federal and state officials joined with California-American Water Co. (CALAM) in signing a declaration to cooperate on removal of the San Clemente Dam on the Carmel River in Monterey County. The Planning and Conservation League Foundation was also on hand, having worked for the last decade to help the parties reach this historic milestone. As Michael Chrisman, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, noted at the ceremony, “projects like this are all about partnerships.”

The 106-foot tall dam, built in 1921, is nearly filled to the brim with silt. The structure is also seismically unsafe, jeopardizing downstream residents. Removal of the dam would provide access to one of the top steelhead streams on California’s Central Coast.

“Dam removal will help us improve river habitat and comply with a directive from the Department of Safety of Dams,” said CALAM President Rob MacLean. “We’ve altered our operations over time to minimize impacts to the river and the dam no longer serves its original purpose as a water storage facility for our customers. Instead, its removal provides an opportunity to work in partnership with natural resource agencies toward protection of the river and its habitat.”

MacLean says demolition work could begin in 2013, with the project completed by 2016.