Celebrate Largest Dam Removal in California History


Target: California American Water, California State Coastal Conservancy, National Marine Fisheries Services, and the Nature Conservancy

Goal: Commend this extensive river restoration project for its leadership in eco-engineering innovation and sustainable resource management.

Expanded critical habitat for threatened species, increased safety for fifteen hundred plus households, and a river that flows like it was mean to: it is this vision that the largest dam removal project in California will fulfill.

Born out of concerns about its safety in the event of an earthquake, the 28 month project of dismantling the San Clemente Dam also promised extensive ecological benefits, which drove the dam’s owner, the public utility California American water, to finally make plans for its dismantling. With the help of some innovative engineering, the Carmel River will be re-routed to its natural flow into the sea, bearing with it the build-up of sediment previously blocked by the dam.

Opening up 25 miles of contiguous spawning ground for two major threatened species, the steelhead trout and the California red-legged frog, the western United States’ largest native frog, the river will be restored to 70 percent its 36 mile length, flowing freely through a range of California’s habitats – from the Santa Lucia mountains to evergreen forests to chaparral to coastal prairie and sand dunes.

With fundraising by the California State Coastal Conservancy and the National Marine Fisheries Services and the Nature Conservancy’s $1 million to the project, California American Water will pay $49 million of total costs. The public utility is also donating 928 acres of the dam’s surrounding land to the federal Bureau of Land Management, which is partnering with Monterey County parks to create more recreational trails for the public.

According to NewsWatch National Geographic, the San Clemente dam removal project has potential to make history beyond its size alone. If successful, this public-private, eco-engineering feat may serve as a model for dam removal projects across the country and even spanning nations. By signing this petition, you can commend this dedicated and diverse team for their commitment to restoring a vital river ecosystem.


Dear California American Water, California State Coastal Conservancy, National Marine Fisheries Services, and the Nature Conservancy,

I am writing to commend you on your undertaking of the largest dam removal project in California history – the dismantling of the San Clemente dam in Monterey County. I am sincerely grateful for your extensive investment and commitment to reinvigorating this vital river habitat. Truly, water is life, and by restoring a great river and all it touches, you have brought this critical ecosystem a second chance at living.

Re-routing the river to unblock previous sediment build-up marks a major feat of engineering. Likewise, California American Water’s donation of 928 acres of land to the federal Bureau of Land Management demonstrates key leadership in sustainable resource management. The depth of your collaboration on this project is a vivid testimonial of what science, technology, and ecological mindfulness can bestow on the environment we live in. It is my earnest hope that the project goes according to plan, and I wish the team luck on the rest of the project.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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