Fish Have Returned to Wanapum Dam, But Still Waiting on Tourists
Investigators said they still do not know what caused the massive crack in Wanapum Dam or how to fix it, but one thing that is back on track is the fish migration around the dam.
It is a tradition filled with history and culture for the Pacific Northwest.
“It really is our duty and our responsibility and our obligation to ensure that the salmon that come through here will make it past Wanapum Dam,” said Chuck Allen with the Grant Public Utility District.
But they almost did not. The Grant PUD said the reservoir was dramatically lowered after crews discovered a crack in Wanapum Dam in February, and fish couldn’t make it through the passageway. Crews said they had to find a way to improvise and came up with the idea of a flume system.
“They basically swim over the flume system, and then enter into the bay and then continue their migration up through the Wanapum Reservoir,” said Tom Dresser, a Water Quality Manager.
As of Thursday, 2,200 Steelhead have passed through and hundreds of other species as well. The Grant PUD said fish migration is back on track, but one thing that won’t return to normal is recreational activities.
Boat launches, beaches and public access points remain closed.
“We found that the conditions are very hazardous on the reservoir, and there are also a number of culturally sensitive sites with much significance, and we need to protect these sites,” said Allen.
KNDO asked the PUD if this will greatly affect tourism over the summer and the answer is it already has.
“I live in the Quincy area,” said Allen. “It’s near Crescent Bar, and a number of my friends are seeing some impacts there.”
The PUD said recreation areas will remain closed until crews can find out what caused the crack and how to fix it. But the priority is always safety.
“We’re doing everything in our power to ensure that it will be a temporary situation, and we can restore the Wanapum Reservoir back to the condition it was before we discovered the fracture,” said Allen.
Crews said by the end of May, they hope to have a timeline on when repairs will be complete and when the reservoir will be raised.