Wanapum Dam in Trouble???

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by cmann886, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,238
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +220 / 2
    My office is directly below Wanapum Dam. I heard about the issue last week and headed for a meeting in BC. I got back and immediately headed for the Hoh. Tomorrow I'm headed for Omak. My idea is to keep having out-of-town meetings, vacation, and weekends until they get it figured out before heading back to the "office". The downside to not being in the office is I don't have any intel that has not made the press releases yet.
  2. Joe Goodfellow Active Member

    Posts: 578
    DES moines wa
    Ratings: +127 / 0

    How is three years long? I'd rather my tax money go to removing a dam then repairing it.
    plaegreid and Chris Johnson like this.
  3. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,238
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +220 / 2
    What tax money is that? I think tax payer is being confused with rate payers. The dam is owned by its customers (rate payers) not the federal government. By state statue, it is a non-profit corporation and no federal dollars are used, though Grant PUD must comply with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for operations and management.
    G-spot4u likes this.
  4. Salmo_g Active Member

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    This appears to be a very serious issue for Grant PUD and for fish. The dam is 55 years old, so the PUD should have more than recovered its initial investment, but Grant's reputation for having the lowest electric rates in the nation may be at risk, depending on the costs associated with fixing this problem. A major repair could be measured in years, and I suppose, hundreds of millions of dollars. Yes, the worst case could be that serious. Hope it's not a worst case scenario.

    It looks like the dam near pier 5 has shifted downstream about 6". Maybe this isn't too big a deal, and its just settling, perhaps associated with the huge concrete pour on the upstream side of the non-powerhouse section of the dam. But the basalt foundation of the dam is on a geologic fault. The fault can be seen in photos taken across the valley, and it extends down into and across the river. If the fault has moved, even 6", this could pose a serious and extremely expensive repair to the dam.

    Now for the fish. The best news so far is that there is no good news. With the preliminary drawdown of 20', neither the upstream fish ladders or downstream fish passage bypass are functional. That's right, when the first spring chinook arrives at Wanapum within two months, the existing fish ladders cannot pass fish. At least not as is. Alternatives include jerry-rigging a water supply to the fishway entrance so that upstream migrants can be trapped and then hauled around the dam. The other alternative is to trap-and-haul from the one ladder at Priest Rapids that is equipped with a fish trap. Downstream passage can be effected by spilling at the Wanapum tainter gates. But with a lower reservoir level, smolts like chinook may be more attracted to the turbine penstocks than to the spillway gates.

    If the pool surface elevation has to be drawn below the spill gate invert, then the only water outlet is the turbine penstocks. (Maybe penstock is the wrong term for a dam of this design, but it refers to the open water passage from the upstream side of the dam through the turbines and out the raceway.) That would kind of undo all the improvements recently made in downstream smolt passage migration. But thus far no one knows how deep a drawdown is going to be necessary. 2014 is going to be an exciting year for Columbia River salmon and steelhead.

    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  5. David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Posts: 1,976
    Walla Walla, WA
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    Anyone know if the PUD risks $ penalties from takings of ESA listed stocks if the passage facilities are non-functional?
  6. ryfly Addicted to flyfishing

    Posts: 375
    Snoqualmie, WA
    Ratings: +49 / 0
    65 foot long 2 inch wide crack is apparently enough to alter the flow out of one of the spillways. I drove by on Saturday and the drawdown is lower than I have seen since the last maintenance on Wanapum years ago.
  7. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,551
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    David D.,

    I don't expect Grant PUD to be fined for unintentional taking of ESA fish. Of course, neither Grant's FERC license or its HCP with NMFS and USFWS anticipated a fault crack in the base and foundation of the dam. Grant's $$ penalties will come in the cost of repairs. Worst case, this will be a major construction project. Best case, it's gonna' take a lot more than a few tubes of caullking compound.

  8. Scott Salzer previously micro brew

    Posts: 2,892
    Ratings: +206 / 0
    There is a lot of sand showing upstream of the dam. There are a couple of boats tied up to the Vantage bridge support piers. Goona get interesting to se the next 14' drawn down. Long haul back aince I have to use Stevens Pass.

  9. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,121
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +786 / 1
    I guess the box with the question "is the proposed dam site on or perilously close to a geological fault line", was missing on that application... or removed for convenience banghead.gif
    prestonco and G-spot4u like this.
  10. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,213
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +1,019 / 1
    Carnac sees the phrase "armchair quarterbacks" coming into play.
  11. Salmo_g Active Member

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    When plans were made, prior to 1959, Wanapum seemed like the best site because of the basalt bedrock under the river at that point. Why geologists thought the bedrock on or near a fault would never move is way beyond my expertise, not to mention, pay grade.

    This is getting complicated and involving pool elevations at upstream dams, which then involves fish passage facilities at those dams. The Wanapum draw down means the entrance to the Rock Island fish ladder is out of water. I keep learning more - there must be a ton of investigators looking into this - and it's not getting better from an electrical energy or fish passage perspective.

  12. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,238
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +220 / 2
    There have been three official news/press releases since this has been announced. Another one was announced today. You can find them in the link below.


    I wonder if it is too early to look for another job yet?
  13. Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Posts: 1,792
    Bellingham Wa.
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    Never too early to look BDD.
  14. BDD Active Member

    Posts: 2,238
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +220 / 2

    Problem is I really like my work and my supervisor. ;)

    I might have to take boat sales to the next level. Maybe we can give Dave Scadden a run for his money? :cool:
  15. Salmo_g Active Member

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    The next level you might have to take boat sales to is "High Water Boats R Us."

    Freestone likes this.
  16. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,384
    Grand Coulee, WA
    Ratings: +1,334 / 0
    It moved back upstream an inch!? I can see it stop moving, but how does taking pressure off make it move back?
    troutpocket likes this.
  17. Ron McNeal Turtles or universes? I can't decide....

    Posts: 243
    Poulsbo, WA
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    Sg wrote, "but Grant's reputation for having the lowest electric rates in the nation may be at risk."

    Would someone in the know kindly post the current Grant County residential rates? I'm must curious....
  18. Vladimir Steblina Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working

    Posts: 728
    Wenatchee, WA
    Ratings: +238 / 0
    The statement is false. They have the third lowest rates in the nation.

    These are estimates from my memory....but they are in the ball park.

    Douglas County is at .020 per kilo-watt/ hour.

    Chelan County is at .027 per kilo-watt/ hour. That number comes from the power bill.

    Grant County is at .045 per kilo-watt/hour!!!! That ain't cheap!!!!

    Grant County has the best and cheapest fiber broadband with 100/100 Mbps for $39.99/month unbundled. Douglas is I believe at $49.99/ month for 100/100 Mbps, while Chelan is the most expensive at $59.99/month.

    They might have to raise both electric and broadband rates. Also a significant chunk of their energy goes to Portland. Not sure how that contract reads.....it might mean a significant raise for Portland and other west-side communities that buy Grant County power.
  19. Salmo_g Active Member

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    Sorry Vlad, I thought Grant was the lowest. BTW, 0.045/kwh is still cheap. PSE here on the west side is 0.10/kwh, and they buy their power from Grant, Chelan, and Douglas. You're right, if repairs are expensive and rate increases are necessary, Grant will pass more of that onto its buyers than to its local customers.

    Trip, it's beyond me, but think of a tree that bends with wind pressure, and the wind stops blowing and the tree stands straight again. Some weakness occurred in the dam base or its bedrock foundation, and that weakness allowed movement. Removing the vast tonnage of water pressure allowed it to move back a bit and partially close the crack.

  20. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,784
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +335 / 0
    Think of a loose tooth. Not really anchored anymore.