In a blog posted on June 9, 2011, we reported that two dams on the Elwha River, the Elwha Dam and the Glines Canyon Dam are being dismantled this Fall. The Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington is now also slated to be removed pursuant to a multi-party settlement agreement. The $32 million project will restore salmon, steelhead and lamprey runs for the first time in almost a century. Contractors for PacifiCorp (the utility operating the power house) plan to blast a 13 foot hole in the dam’s base in the Fall and will remove the remains after the winter.
The Yakama Nation and a host of environmental groups led by American Rivers were part of a 1999 settlement agreement with PacifiCorp that started the dam removal process. The dam removal will allow access to 33 miles of new fish farming and rearing grounds on the federally designated wild and scenic river, according to the utility. The Condit Dam began operating in 1913, about 3 miles upstream from the White Salmon’s confluence with the Columbia, across from Hood River, Oregon. The dam is 125 feet high, 471 feet long and has a capacity of 14.7 megawatts, enough to power 7,000 homes.
According to PacifiCorp, removing the dam will cost its customers less than making upgrades for fish passage as part of the federal dam relicensing.
In previous blogs we commented on the inconsistency of tearing down hydropower plants when our country is importing oil from countries at a tremendous cost to our economy. In that vein, it is refreshing to follow the expansion of a power house being built in Montana. Major upgrades for the Pacific Power & Light Montana Rainbow Dam hydroelectric plant are on schedule. The project includes constructing a new power house and concrete transporting canal, as well as replacing the 8 original turbines with a single large turbine. To date, over 50,000 cubic yards of concrete have been placed and 7 million pounds of rebar has been installed