(Washington) -- The final federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Black Rock dam proposal was released today by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation. According to the EIS, none of the alternatives evaluated for the Storage Study proved economically justifiable based on the costs and benefits measured. The cost of the Black Rock dam proposal is estimated to range from $4.95 to $7.73 billion, with a probable cost of $5.69 billion, plus annual operating and maintenance of $60.2 million.
On the issue of contaminated groundwater at Hanford, the EIS has determined that, while most seepage flows toward the Hanford site, the groundwater seepage from the reservoir could be intercepted before it reaches the western boundary of the site. Mitigation measures to intercept would eliminate nearly all impacts to groundwater conditions at the site and eliminate any impacts to the existing contaminants. However, the EIS itself acknowledges uncertainties associated with the effectiveness of the proposed measures.
American Rivers strongly supports the Washington Department of Ecology's work to explore less expensive, less environmentally risky alternatives to the Black Rock dam. This information will be finalized in March 2009 in a supplemental EIS and will cover increased irrigation and municipal efficiency, groundwater and aquifer water storage, habitat restoration, and fish passage at headwaters dams.
Michael Garrity, Washington conservation director for American Rivers made the following statement:
"The final EIS confirms that it makes no sense to build the Black Rock dam - it's too expensive, too risky, and there are too many better alternatives to meet the needs of fish, farms, and communities."
"It makes no sense to spend nearly $6 billion or more on a seismically vulnerable dam with a reservoir behind it that could speed the movement of radioactive groundwater beneath the Hanford nuclear reservation toward the Columbia River."
"It is unrealistic to think Black Rock could be both an effective water supply reservoir and a successful recreation facility. Using a reservoir for water supply requires taking enough water out to draw the level down significantly over the summer, reducing the reservoir's recreational values."
"We hope the state of Washington considers the comprehensive impacts of the Black Rock dam proposal before moving ahead with a project that will not sustain water supply for our future economy, environment and quality of life."
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.