A firm that oversaw emergency reconstruction of the Oroville Dam spillways last August will be in charge of removing four dams on the Klamath River.

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation has entered into a contract with Fairfield-based Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., awarding an initial $18.1 million for the design portion of the project. KRRC will authorize an additional award for Kiewit once the design phase is completed, the nonprofit announced Thursday.

Under its agreement with KRRC, Kiewit will assume responsibility for both the design and the removal of the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron Gate dams. The preliminary phase will begin immediately and will include developing a native seed bank and other preparation for drawing down reservoirs.

Kiewit will also be responsible for dam modifications for the drawdown of reservoirs, road and bridge access improvements for construction vehicle traffic and bridge and culvert improvements to accommodate new river and creek geometry, according to the press release.

Once it completes reservoir drawdown, Kiewit will focus on dam and hydropower facilities removal, removing former recreation facilities and creating new ones and restoring formerly inundated land and other disturbed areas.

According to KRRC's press release, implementing the removal project is contingent on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval of license transfer and license surrender.

On Thursday, Matt Cox, KRRC's director of communications, said the nonprofit is addressing issues FERC's board of consultants raised when reviewing KRRC's definite plan in December 2018. KRRC plans to submit a revised draft of its definite plan to FERC by July 29, Cox said.

Meanwhile, the State Water Resources Control Board is still in the process of reviewing public comments on a draft environmental impact report in response to the nonprofit's request for a Clean Water Act Section 401 certification for the removal of the three dams in California, according to Cox.

The public comment for that certification closed on Feb. 26.

KRRC must clear that hurdle before FERC approves transferring the hydroelectric license for the dams to the nonprofit from its current owner, PacifiCorp, Cox said.

Once that transfer occurs, FERC would have to approve a KRRC request to surrender the hydroelectric license, terminating the dams' operation as a hydroelectric project.

According to Cox, selecting a design-build contractor helps determine a more definite number for what the dam removal project would cost, which would be something FERC would consider before approving the transfer and surrender of the hydroelectric license.

During the project's preliminary phase, Kiewit will solicit competitive bids for subcontractors and will work with KRRC on a final "guaranteed maximum price" for the entire dam removal project, according to the press release. Under the current schedule, Kiewit will submit this guaranteed maximum price based on a 60-percent design by January 2020.

Kiewit has extensive experience in major projects, including the emergency reconstruction of the Oroville Dam, which involved the removal and repair of both the main flood control and emergency spillways in less than 18 months after the dam's failure, according to the press release.

In a statement Thursday, the Yurok Tribe, one of the signatories to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement in 2016, issued a statement supporting KRRC's selection of Kiewit to oversee the design and removal of the four dams.

"We congratulate Kiewit on its selection as the prime contractor for the removal of the dams on the Klamath River and look forward to working with Kiewit, KRRC and PacifiCorp to make this project happen in a timely manner," Yurok Tribal Chair Joseph L. James said in a written statement. "Dam removal is the single best action we can take for our salmon and it will create many good-paying jobs for community members. I look forward to the day when we will never again have to worry about there not being enough fish to feed our elders or if it is safe for our children to swim in the river."

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .