Our Northwest Water
12:00 am
Fri April 2, 2010

Milestone Toward Elwha Dam Removal

The National Park Service, community leaders, and a Northwest Washington Indian tribe marked a major milestone Friday toward removing two dams on the Elwha River. They're on the north Olympic Peninsula.

A damp but happy crowd celebrated the completion of two water treatment plants to serve Port Angeles, Washington. That area gets its water from the soon-to-be altered Elwha River. Olympic National Park spokeswoman Barb Mayes says the water projects are necessary precursors to the removal of Glines Canyon Dam and Elwha Dam. The two hydroelectric dams are the nation's biggest scheduled for destruction to date.

Barb Maynes: “Once the dams are taken out, there will be sediment released that's been backed up behind the dams for almost 100 years. As that is released, it could cause...and we know it would...cause some adverse affects for drinking water and industrial water. That's why we're building these water treatment plants.”

Maynes says new levees will also be constructed along the lower river later this year. She says that puts the actual dam removal on track to start next year. Both Elwha dams will be dismantled simultaneously. Glines Canyon Dam is 210 feet high. Maynes says the process will take two to three years. 

Olympic National Park:
http://www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/elwha-ecosystem-restoration.htm

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