Putting things right. Celebrate dam removal.
Tearing Down The Elwha River Dam…. Going….. Going…..
"Elwha River Restoration will restore the river to its natural free-flowing state, allowing all five species of Pacific salmon and other anadromous fish to once again reach habitat and spawning grounds."
"The Elwha watershed is the largest in Olympic National Park; restoration of salmon to more than 70 miles of river and tributaries will return vital nutrients to the watershed, restoring an entire ecosystem.
For the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, this project will bring cultural, spiritual and economic healing as salmon return after a century’s absence and flooded sacred sites are restored."
Great video of the history of the Elwha: http://www.nps.gov/olym/naturescience/elwha-ecosystem-restoration.htm
""TEARING DOWN THE DAM IS THE EASY PART,"
"The world's biggest dam removal will return Washington's Elwha River to its free-flowing state. But the colossal three-year project proves there's a lot more to deconstruction than tons of TNT."
Click here to download a FREE pdf showing the six phases of the Elwha Dam project.
""TEARING DOWN THE DAM IS THE EASY PART," says fisheries biologist Brian Winter, gesturing to the 108-ft.-tall, moss-streaked concrete wedge of the Elwha Dam, which plugs a forested river valley on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula. With a wave of his hand, Winter dismisses the three-year effort required to remove the spillway gates, the hoists, the crane, the enormous steel tubes that channel the river into the hydroelectric plant below, the plant itself and the reservoir that stretches up the valley, not to mention the 210-ft.-tall Glines Canyon Dam upriver and its reservoir. "That's essentially construction in reverse," he says. The hard part of the world's biggest dam removal project was the nearly three decades it took for multiple interests to agree to deconstruction, overcome bureaucratic inertia and find $184 million in funding.
The Elwha River Restoration Project, scheduled to begin in 2008, represents an extraordinary about-face in a nation that has been swiftly erecting dams since before the Declaration of Independence was signed. All told, more than 2.5 million dams--both publicly and privately owned--now block U.S. streams and rivers. More than a quarter have passed their 50-year average life expectancy; by 2020, that figure will reach 85 percent.
Once past the half-century mark, dams begin to degenerate: Concrete walls degrade, earthworks erode and seep, spillway gates rust and lose tensile strength, and sediment clogs reservoirs, reducing their capacity. In the worst-case scenario, an aging dam could fail, causing catastrophic flooding.
As maintenance and liability costs rise, economic returns drop. Many older dams are obsolete. Many others, including the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, need upgrades such as fish passage structures that would cause the power they produce to soar above market prices.
Because of growing pressure from conservation groups, fishermen, tribal councils, and state and federal agencies, more dams are now being considered for removal in the United States than are being built. Nearly 200 have been torn down in the past six years. Most were small, low or involved a single stretch of waterway. The Elwha project, however, aims to restore an entire river system.
AS IT PLUNGES 4500 ft. from the snowfields of the Olympic Mountains to sea level west of Port Angeles, the Elwha River spans 45 miles. Fed by up to 240 in. of precipitation yearly, it was once phenomenally productive. Making 11 annual spawning runs were hundreds of thousands of fish: coho, pink, chum, sockeye and chinook salmon, plus steelhead, bull and cutthroat trout.
The creation of Olympic National Park in 1938 preserved the upper watershed, but by then the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, finished in 1913 and 1927, respectively, had blocked all but the lower 4.9 miles to upstream migration.
Winter, project manager for the National Park Service, lets his gaze drop from the spillway gates to the pools at the base of the Elwha Dam, which has been generating up to 14.8 megawatts of electricity for the local paper mill since it was first constructed. "When the light is right," he says, "you can see them down there--adult salmon, waiting to swim upriver, waiting for the dam to be gone." The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, which has lived on the river for at least 2700 years, has objected to the dams since the early 1900s. Over the decades, conservation groups joined the protest. In 2000 the federal government purchased both dams for $29.5 million, setting in motion their removal under the oversight of the park service.
In the fall of 2008, Lake Mills, the 415-acre reservoir above the Glines Canyon Dam, will be lowered 50 ft. Then the dam's curving center arch, a section of concrete just 4 ft. wide at the top but 21 stories tall, will be cut out using diamond-wire saws. About a year later, the gates atop the Elwha Dam will be cranked open to drain 18 ft. from its reservoir, 267-acre Lake Aldwell. Crews will lower the stepped gravity dam--108 ft. tall and 100 ft. thick at its base--in 7- to 10-ft. increments. All traces of the dam will be removed by the fall of the third year.
Destroying both dams involves breaking up and recycling 35,000 cubic yards of concrete--more than half the amount used to construct the Empire State Building--along with hundreds of tons of metal. "We want to use as much of the material on site as possible," Winter says. Earth fill and crushed bedrock will be used to reshape the slopes around the dams to their original contours. The Elwha hydro plant and penstock tubes, with inside diameters that could comfortably accommodate an elephant, pose thornier problems. Some parts, such as the turbines, might be preserved as historic exhibits.
The two reservoirs must ultimately be drained of 48,600 acre-ft. of water--enough to flood Safeco Ballpark in Seattle, the home of the Mariners, to the height of a 130-story skyscraper. Then there is the reservoirs' sediment, 18 million cubic yards of the stuff, an amount so large that scientists have studied the debris flows from the explosion of Mount St. Helens to gauge how aquatic life will react to it washing downstream. Reservoir drawdowns will be carefully timed to manage turbidity.
By late 2011, both dams will be history, reservoirs drained and raw banks softened by sprouting trees. It will take three to five years for the river to flush out excess sediment, but the fish, Winter says, will likely reappear in a few months. It will be 30 years before the population is fully restored.
BEFORE THE ELWHA River Restoration Project can begin in earnest, the National Park Service must build two new water plants and intake structures for Port Angeles, which draws its water from the river. The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe must raise and lengthen the flood control levee for its reservation at the river's mouth. The tribe also must build a new sewage plant, as post-dam water tables will flood septic systems.
According to Robert Elofson, program director for tribal river restoration, both the wait and the work will be worth it. "We lived for the salmon," he says. "The river reflects who we are." Standing on the levee under a canopy of towering alder trees, he notes the rounded rocks packing the river bottom. "No gravel for the fish," he says. "And no sand for the beaches either. The ocean eats it all away and the river isn't bringing any down."
Since the dams were built, the swath of sandy beaches, where locals once earned money digging clams, has slowly disappeared. So has the river delta, which buffers the coastline from storm surges and supports emerging life from fish to crabs. The dams' removal will re-establish the cycle of nutrients from the river's headwaters to its mouth, sweeping sediment downstream, while opening 70 miles of the Elwha and its tributaries to the upstream migration of salmon. Winter calls the fish "packages of fertilizer with fins," because after spawning their carcasses supply the ecosystem with nitrogen and phosphorus.
Dam removal advocates will be watching the restoration of the Elwha River closely. Its success may provide the impetus to tear down other aging dams, including the four massive structures that block the lower Snake River in eastern Washington, and the 168-ft.-tall Matilija Dam on a tributary of Southern California's Ventura River.
Elofson will be keeping an even closer watch on the free-flowing waters. Like Winter, he got involved in the Elwha project right out of college. Now 53, he hopes to hike upriver and catch a coho before he retires."
Olympic National Park and its partners are ready to Celebrate Elwha in September.
"A weeklong series of events for all ages and interests will be held in and around Port Angeles, Sequim and the Elwha Valley from Sept. 10-18 to commemorate the Elwha River restoration and the beginning of the nation’s largest dam removal to date."
Celebrate dam removal. A week of events such as art installations, symposiums and street fairs mark the beginning of Elwha River restoration in September.
"Activities will range from Elwha-themed art installations in area galleries, a two-day science symposium, venues to watch live-streaming of the ceremony commemorating the beginning of dam removal, poetry readings and tribal storytelling, music performances and a street fair with educational and interactive booths showcasing the North Olympic Peninsula.
“This weeklong series of events will give people a chance to experience Elwha River restoration through a wide variety of media and activities,” Superintendent Karen Gustin said in a news release. “From poetry to science, from music to outdoor family activities, there will be something for everyone at Celebrate Elwha.”
On Sept. 17, nationally syndicated radio program eTown will record its weekly show at the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center. The program is a weekly radio broadcast heard on NPR, public and commercial stations. The shows are taped in front of a live audience and feature performances from musical artists as well as conversations and information. More information is available at celebrateelwha.com.
The Elwha River Science Symposium will be Sept. 15-16. It will feature presentations of recent scientific studies, as well as lectures from nationally recognized scholars in the fields of fisheries biology, geomorphology, ecosystem health, and dam removal and river policy."
More information can be found at elwharesearchconsortium.wildapricot.org.
Jerry & Gloria Quincy's account of when they were there in February this year:
Elwha River Dam Removal Feb 22, 2011
Elwha River Dam
This is why they have warnings :-)
Elwha RV Park near the dam
It is a beautiful park
Walking trail over the river
"When we first visited the Olympic National Park, we stopped at the visitors center for information. The lady working there told us about history in the making. She told us not to miss visiting the Elwha Dam. It is scheduled to be removed. It is a huge project, the largest dam removal in U.S. history.
It will free the Elwha River after 100 years. Salmon populations will swell from 3,000 to nearly 400,000 as all five species of Pacific salmon return to more than 70 miles of river and stream.
Returning salmon and a restored river will renew the culture of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. Tribal members will have access to sacred sites now inundated and cultural traditions can be reborn. We feel blessed to have been here at the right time to see it before it's removal. We also hope to return and see the effects afterward. See photos for more information." http://www.mytripjournal.com/travel-576696
Elwha Web Slide Show: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americanrivers/sets/72157619571249871/show/with/345729517/
What do pleasure do people derive from making spam comments? I have been plagued by a lot of Anonymous spam comments in all languages. I thought about cutting out all Anonymous comments, but there are genuine folks who don't have, or want, and internet ID. As Al gets a lot of comments, I searched his blog (http://thebayfieldbunch.com/) to see if I could glean some insight as to how he handles this problem. He looks at his Blogger dashboard. Well, I would forget to do that, so I will just stick to the email notification of a new comment to moderate them. I know the hoopla of the word verification would stop most of it, but why should one have to go through that!
By the way, I am with the board on their choice of homes for Lexi, the Border Collie that Al and Kelly wanted for a new member of the Bayfield Bunch. The other family's dog didn't mind being herded around, even seemed to like it, but Motormouse would not have appreciated that at all. Sorry Kelly and All, but that is the way I feel about it, as an SPCA foster mom. Matching canines is just as important as matching 'hoomans'. A better match for y'all is out there.
Misty rode while I drove down to pick up Jay. She took her usual little walk-about, went across the street to see Muffie, with me on a leash, of course. Once Jay was in the car I drove over to where she used to live with her late Dad on the other side of the subdivision, over 4-1/2 years ago. She seemed to vaguely remember the lady and the dog next door, but not very well.
When we got back here, Jay and I were going through the 'garden hose parts box', looking for a way to connect my front lawn sprinkler system to the timer that operates the back yard sprinkler and underground waterer for the hedge. There is a diverter, so I turn either one on manually when I need them, and it shuts off automatically after an interval which I can set on a dial on there. It is right on the pathway beside the house where I take Misty out to the back yard, so it is easy to use.
But the front lawn doesn't have a timer, and it's faucet is an awkward place, also that faucet comes off the guest house meter, so I hardly ever use it. If I do walk around there to turn it on, I forget that it's on and overdo it. That area is in the blazing sun during the hottest part of the day, so that is a bad time to water, so it needs to be done early or late. It would be so convenient to have it right there inside my fence, on my walkway. We found a very long heavy duty garden hose, attached it to that sprinkler, and strung it around all the way back and across the rear of the RVport, where it won't get tripped on or run over, to my side walkway where the other timer is located. But I needed one more two-way hose adapter with shut-offs, so that was put on the list.
Ray did the final painting on the outside front of the cargo trailer, and fixed some scratches from when we towed it from the side lot to the morning shade in the front, as some of the branches of the felled trees touched it. Now he is working on some places on the back.
Jay and I were so grateful for the shade tarp that we had 'hillbillied' over the outside work table while we "buttered" the cargo trailer's table top and Formica with Contact Cement. Then we went inside to clean one of the air cleaners, cut and installed new filter material for it, while we were waiting for the Contact Cement to dry. That air cleaner had been missed on our last 'Monthly List', and it needed it.
Time was up, so we laid dowels across the table top, and laid the Formica on the dowels. Making sure it was all in the right position, starting at one end, Jay pulled the first dowel out and I smoothed that end down with the roller. We worked our way along until it was all stuck. It was put on a table in the workshop with a rug and some heavy blocks on it for the rest of the day.