Work continues on Wanapum Spillway fix

Justin Brimer, Columbia Basin HeraldApril 3, 2014 

BEVERLY -- With work still under way, Grant County PUD officials said they do not know how much repairs to the cracked Wanapum Spillway will cost or when the water levels will return to normal levels.

Commissioners recently voted to spend up to $26 million on repairs.

"This figure reflects proactive efforts to get not-to-exceed contracts and purchase orders in place so that as soon as potential solutions have been identified all lead times are reduced and work can begin immediately," said PUD spokesman Tom Stredwick. "The $26 million figure that has been reported is a preliminary, not-to-exceed dollar amount and does not reflect actual expenditures."

Stredwick explained reports of exact dollar amounts spent on repairs are not accurate, as district officials do not even know how much money has been spent.

Spokane contractor Kuney-Goebel JV recently drilled six investigative holes to assess damage and possibly find out what caused the crack. Strong winds delayed some of the work, so contractors are now constructing a more stable platform on the cracked monolith to work from.

It is also unclear when the water levels on the Columbia River could return to normal.

"We have no timelines established for when we anticipate having river levels back up. Obviously this is a critical component of our work right now, but there has been no timeline established," Stredwick said.

The lowered water level has left Wanapum's fish ladder high and dry, prompting PUD engineers to alter it to allow fish to pass.

PUD spokesman Chuck Allen said workers are currently installing large water pumps to assist migrating fish. He said the utility would add weirs, which are like little dams in the fish ladder and flumes, basically a large slip and slide on the top, to help the fish go up and over the ladder.

Allen said the alterations would be complete by April 15, when the first few Chinook begin to arrive at the Wanapum Reservoir. He said 15,000 Chinook Salmon passed over Wanapum's fish ladders last year and the utility expects about the same number this year.

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