Gov. Inslee To Tour Cracked Wanapum Dam

May 14, 2014

Governor Jay Inslee will get to see the massive problems with central Washington's Wanapum Dam for himself Wednesday. Major design miscalculations and construction flaws are to blame for the dam’s massive crack. Now officials say they’ll be studying other dams on the Columbia River as well.

File photo of a crew investigating the crack in Wanapum Dam near Vantage, Wash.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

It’s taken a team of 100 engineers nearly three months to slog through decades of records on Wanapum. They found the very fundamentals of the 8,000-foot-wide dam are flawed. A miscalculated design and faulty concrete pours mean the safety of other dams on the Northwest’s largest rivers are now in question.

Grant County utility district spokesman Thomas Stredwick says his agency plans to do a detailed review of its other dam, Priest Rapids, about 20 miles downstream on the Columbia from Wanapum.

Upriver, Chelan County owns Rock Island, Rocky Reach and Chelan Dam. Suzanne Hartman, a spokeswoman with the county's public utility district, says the agency has done a careful examination of its structures for any Wanapum-like scenarios. She says their structures are sound.

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