You've seen the rocks, the heavy equipment, near the rushing water...what's going on, what's the update on the Nelson Dam?

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Update On The Dam Story

Nelson Dam, on the Naches tributary of the Yakima River, just west of the North 40th Ave. Fred Meyer store, was built in the 1920s to divert irrigation water for Yakima and the Naches-Cowiche Irrigation Association. In those days there wasn't an environmental concern for fish and the original design did not allow any fish passage. The dam did however divert more than water.  Dirt and silt piled up and resulted in periodic flooding.

Fast forward 100 years and fish now enjoy a powerful political punch that has helped bring about the removal of the dam. The Nelson Dam removal and replacement project will improve fish passage, beef up habitat, increase flow to decrease flooding risks for nearby landowners, and improve the reliability of the water supply.

Serious Money In Play

City and County officials have been working on the design and implementation of the project for more than a decade. The dam removal and related work are one of several major public works projects initiated by the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan

The cost of the project is expected to be around $26 million with the City of Yakima Spending $10.8 million. To help pay for the project, the City of Yakima received $4.4 million from Washington State’s Floodplain by Design program, $4.134 million from Washington State’s Brian Abbott Fish Barrier Removal Board, $1.325 million from the state’s Capital Budget and $500,000 from both the Resource Legacy Fund and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Adjust Your Travel Plans

Perhaps all this is more than you need to know!  But you do need to know this:

Work scheduled to continue the next four weeks includes pouring concrete for a new fish screen structure. The work requires temporary closure of South Naches Road at Powerhouse Road. This closure will start at 6:00 am and end by 5:00 pm on the following dates:

Thursday July 14th

Thursday July 21st

Thursday July 28th

Wednesday August 3rd

The schedule for this type of work is subject to change daily dependent on weather, equipment failure, and emergencies. For more about the project, contact City of Yakima Assistant Public Works Director David Brown at 509-575-6154 or

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