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Open-File Report 2011–1311

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation

Simulated Effects of Dam Removal on Water Temperatures along the Klamath River, Oregon and California, Using 2010 Biological Opinion Flow Requirements

By John C. Risley, Scott J. Brewer, and Russell W. Perry

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Computer model simulations were run to determine the effects of dam removal on water temperatures along the Klamath River, located in south-central Oregon and northern California, using flow requirements defined in the 2010 Biological Opinion of the National Marine Fisheries Service. A one-dimensional, daily averaged water temperature model (River Basin Model-10) developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10, Seattle, Washington, was used in the analysis. This model had earlier been configured and calibrated for the Klamath River by the U.S. Geological Survey for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Klamath Secretarial Determination to simulate the effects of dam removal on water temperatures for current (2011) and future climate change scenarios. The analysis for this report was performed outside of the scope of the Klamath Secretarial Determination process at the request of the Bureau of Reclamation Technical Services Office, Denver, Colorado.

For this analysis, two dam scenarios were simulated: “dams in” and “dams out.” In the “dams in” scenario, existing dams in the Klamath River were kept in place. In the “dams out” scenario, the river was modeled as a natural stream, without the J.C. Boyle, Copco1, Copco2, and Iron Gate Dams, for the entire simulation period. Output from the two dam scenario simulations included daily water temperatures simulated at 29 locations for a 50-year period along the Klamath River between river mile 253 (downstream of Link River Dam) and the Pacific Ocean. Both simulations used identical flow requirements, formulated in the 2010 Biological Opinion, and identical climate conditions based on the period 1961–2009.

Simulated water temperatures from January through June at almost all locations between J.C. Boyle Reservoir and the Pacific Ocean were higher for the “dams out” scenario than for the “dams in” scenario. The simulated mean monthly water temperature increase was highest [1.7–2.2 degrees Celsius (°C)] in May downstream of Iron Gate Dam. However, from August to December, dam removal generally cooled water temperatures. During these months, water temperatures decreased 1°C or more between Copco Lake and locations 50 miles or more downstream. The greatest mean monthly temperature decrease was 4°C in October just downstream of Iron Gate Dam. Near the ocean, the effects of dam removal were small (less than 0.2°C) for most months. However, the mean November temperature near the ocean was almost 0.5°C cooler with dam removal.

The simulated streamflow and water temperature values for the "dams in" and "dams out" scenarios from the RBM10 model created for the Klamath River application are available at

First posted January 3, 2012

For additional information contact:
Director, Oregon Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2130 SW 5th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97201

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Suggested citation:

Risley, J.C., Brewer, S.J., and Perry, R.W., 2012, Simulated effects of dam removal on water temperatures along the Klamath River, Oregon and California, using 2010 Biological Opinion flow requirements: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1311, 18 p.




Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Water Temperature Model


References Cited

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