Irrigators May Encounter Problems Related to Dam Crack

By Steve Jackson

The Washington Department of Ecology wants to hear from any water users near Wanapum Dam if they are experiencing problems. The pool behind Wanapum Dam has been drawn down 30 feet ever since a crack in the dam was discovered last month.

Now, officials are concerned the drawdown could affect irrigators and well users along 58 miles of the Columbia River upstream to the Rocky Reach dam. Brooke Beeler with the state Ecology Department says there are 150 water diversions for irrigation that could be affected by the drawdown.

Beeler: “We're asking people to go out and look and see if their pumps are out of water. We have heard from folks in the tree fruit industry that there is potential that they won’t get their water.”

Beeler says the Chelan county PUD is experimenting with water levels in the pool behind the Rock Island dam upstream to see how that affects irrigators. She says it may be possible that irrigators or well users that are not connected to the lowered pool are impacted as well.

Beeler: “So we want to work through if they need to make changes to their infrastructure, ensuring that any needed permitting process to protect water quality or fish, that all permitting needs to be met.”

Anyone experiencing problems with their water supplies since the drawdown is urged call the department of Ecology and report their issue.

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