Dam removals don't happen everyday but a Washington state dam removal project that aims to improve the passage of fish is set to begin later this year in the Yakima Valley. The Nelson Dam along Highway 12 was built in the 1920s to divert irrigation water into Yakima and the surrounding area. But the dam has hampered the routes of salmon trying to migrate upstream for nearly a century. That has state fish officials very concerned. The dam has also caused the Naches River to overflow its banks during even minor flooding. So city and state officials are taking action.

Next Tuesday the Yakima City Council is expected to approve a resolution that would authorize a company to begin phase 1 of the dam removal project. Yakima city officials say the project is funded by City of Yakima funds, Floodplains by Design Grant, Fish Barrier Removal Board Grant, Washington State Funds, Rivers Legacy Fund and the Irrigation Improvement Fund. The total cost of the removal project is $18,140,250.

State officials say "the replacement will insure adequate water supply for irrigation; improve fish passage; allow boat usage at this site; reduce flood hazard risks and help return the river to a more natural state. Four water diversions will be consolidated at Nelson Dam as part of this project as well.  The Nelson Dam Removal project will facilitate many other flood hazard risk reduction projects and allow for increased recreational and park activities."

The Yakima City Council will talk about the project and vote on the resolution on Tuesday, July 6 at Yakima City Hall. You can watch live at yakimawa.gov.

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