More human bones found at Wanapum Dam

Yakima Herald-Republic and news servicesMarch 13, 2014 

CRESCENT BAR -- A second set of human bones exposed by lowering the reservoir behind Wanapum Dam was found in the Crescent Bar area.

Grant County sheriff's spokesman Kyle Foreman said the coroner believes the bones found last Friday are probably as old as the first bones found March 4. The wear pattern on the teeth indicates the person ate food different from modern humans.

The Wenatchee World reported the latest bones also are expected to be turned over to the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

The bones were found by people exploring the shoreline after the reservoir was lowered because of a crack in the Wanapum Dam.

Lowered water levels in the Columbia River have relieved pressure on the damaged section of the Wanapum Dam, but they are creating water supply problems for some irrigators, the Yakima Herald-Republic reports.

The state Department of Ecology is urging water users upstream of the dam with supply concerns to call in to report problems. With irrigation season rapidly approaching, the Ecology Department hopes to help users respond quickly with solutions that meet safety, environmental and legal requirements. While some irrigators should have sufficient water supply, others are concerned.

The state Department of Ecology reports that about 150 diversions in Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Kittitas counties might be affected by the drawdown; the majority are from the pool above Rock Island Dam.

"We are reaching out to learn who might be having problems accessing water as we explore ways to remedy water supply concerns," Ecology Director Maia Bellon said in a news release. "It is important that water users have the information they need and we will be as flexible as we can to make any related permitting as smooth and streamlined as possible."

The Grant County Public Utility District, which manages the Wanapum Dam, reports that it has contacted the 10 irrigators with rights for surface water withdrawals from the Wanapum reservoir to work together to determine the best course of action.

The utility is also working to figure out how to handle the salmon migration season, which begins in April. Officials are considering plans to modify fish ladders or to transport adult fish around the reservoir, the PUD reported Monday. There is still no timeline for repairs and returning the river to normal levels.

Ecology encourages concerned water users in Chelan, Douglas and Kittitas counties to call the agency's water resources customer service section at 509-575-2490; those in Grant County can call 509-329-3400. Also, Chelan Public Utilities will be hosting a meeting for surface water irrigators from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today at the Confluence Technology Center in Wenatchee.

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