Kennewick making repairs behind Zintel Canyon Dam

Tri-City HeraldJune 10, 2014 

Kennewick is taking action to deal with erosion caused by testing for a water storage project.

The city started emergency repairs May 27 to make the area behind Zintel Canyon Dam safer, according to a news release. The city also hired an environmental consultant specializing in wildlife management to look at eroded areas that have been inhabited by migrating swallows. Those areas will be repaired once the birds leave their nests.

The city also has put up safety fencing and signs along trail areas near the canyon used by hikers and mountain bikers, warning them of the eroded areas.

The city hopes to award a contract for the next phase of work by July 15. That will involve removing silt built up behind the dam, which was built for flood protection in the 1990s.

The storage project will allow Kennewick to keep more than 100 million gallons of water in an aquifer for summer usage. The city has been working since 2008 with the state Department of Ecology, which will fund more than half the project.

Testing of the water storage system caused breaches in the Kennewick Irrigation District canal and the ravine behind the dam that were up to 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep. The city discharged between 35 million and 40 million gallons of water testing the project.

The final phase of testing is scheduled for this summer. Kennewick is working with Ecology to have those tests done through the city water system, rather than the Kennewick Irrigation District canal, the release said.

Estimates for repairing the damage caused by the April testing are about $100,000, said Evelyn Lusignan, Kennewick's customer service manager.

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