More than 200,000 young fish have been killed on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula — the apparent consequence of a pump that failed to deal with all the sediment flowing downstream after dam removal work got underway on the Elwha River.
The largest dam removal in U.S. history is taking place on the Elwha River. Work was put on hold last spring after sediment released from above the dams clogged the brand new Elwha Water Treatment Plant.
The facility was meant to ensure a reliable water supply for local businesses, the city of Port Angeles, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s hatchery during dam removal.
The hatchery had been forced to rely on a secondary pump to supply water for the hatchery fish, but that pump failed over the weekend and tribal officials say roughly 200,000 juvenile coho salmon and 2,000 steelhead died. They represent about half this year’s production at the hatchery.
Olympic National Park paid for the brand new $79 million dollar water treatment facility as part of the dam removal project.
“It’s very unfortunate and a shame that the fish were lost and we’re doing everything we can to get the water facilities back and operational so that all the users can obtain water from it,” said Barb Maynes, a spokeswoman for Olympic National Park, which is overseeing the dam removal.
The Elwha Water Treatment Plant was designed and built by a San Francisco-based URS Corp.
So far the Park Service has paid $1.4 million to fix the facility. Maynes said the problem should be solved by mid-September.
The $325 million Elwha Dam removal has been underway since 2011.
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