Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published March 7, 2014 at 11:24 AM | Page modified March 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Wanapum Dam crack hinders power generation upstream


The Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The big drawdown of the reservoir behind Wanapum Dam has stabilized a cracked spillway there, but it’s coming at the cost of lost power generation.

Wanapum Dam has the ability to generate some 700 megawatts this time of year. The drawdown, which dropped the level of the reservoir by 26 feet, has reduced generation to 360 megawatts.

The Wenatchee World reports that no financial-impact estimates were immediately available from the Grant County Public Utility District, owner of the Columbia River dam.

But the Chelan County PUD, owner and operator of the two dams immediately upriver of Wanapum, has had to stop all power generation at its Rock Island Dam. That means power with an estimated daily market value of more than $400,000 is no longer being generated there.

Chelan County PUD’s long-term contracts with its power purchasers — and the ability to increase generation at its Rocky Reach Dam — limit the financial hit to the utility.

“We’ll forego some revenue on the open market,” Mark O’Bryan, financial planning director at Chelan PUD, said, “but it doesn’t appear it will stress our financial conditions to the point we need to look at rates.”

Chelan PUD General Manager Steve Wright said restoring generation at Rock Island Dam and devising a plan to get migrating fish past the dam are now the utility’s two biggest priorities. PUD engineers are working to determine how much more water would have to be in the river for Rock Island to start generating again.

They hope to ask the Bonneville Power Administration to coordinate releases of enough water from big federal dams upriver to get Rock Island back on line. Portland-based Bonneville oversees power and water coordination on the Columbia River.

On the fish side of things, the clock is ticking. Adult fish will start heading upriver to spawn in late April and continue until November.

The Grant County PUD said that if the water level remains low into the migration season, one option to provide upstream passage is modifying existing Wanapum Dam fish ladders. Another option is to trap and haul fish via trucks around the dam.

With the cracked portion of the dam now stable, the Grant County PUD is studying the cause of the fracture, which was discovered on Feb. 27, and how best to repair the structure.



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The summer is wide open.

The summer is wide open.

Follow our three-part "Washington's National Parks" series running through August 10 for an in-depth look at some of our local treasures.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

The Seattle Times photographs

Seattle space needle and mountains

Purchase The Seattle Times images


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►