Inside our parks The National Park Service last week awarded a contract for work to improve the Elwha Water Treatment Plant. Work is expected to begin shortly.
The plant is one of several mitigation projects built to protect Elwha River water users from impacts associated with high sediment flows resulting from the removal of two dams on the Elwha River.
The plant provides initial treatment of the industrial water supply for the City of Port Angeles, Nippon Paper Co., the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fish-rearing channel and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s fish hatchery.
Work to continue lowering Glines Canyon Dam has been put on hold until March 31, to allow the contractor and plant operator Veolia Water time to complete upgrades and repairs to the water treatment plant. A new work schedule for dam removal has not yet been finalized, but the project is scheduled for completion well before the contract ends in September 2014.
Problems associated with the water intake structure at the plant began last fall, when fish screens and pumps became clogged by large amounts of material such as leaves, twigs and branches, as well as sediment. That decreased the amount of water the treatment plant was able to process and increased the time and effort that was necesarry for staffers to clean and maintain the plant’s pumps, filters and clarifiers.
Construction of the plant was completed in 2010 and the plant began operating when dam removal began in September 2011. The Elwha Dam is completely gone and only about 30 percent of the Glines Canyon Dam remains.
Removal of the two dams is the largest project of its kind in U.S. history and is part of the landmark Elwha River Restoration project. The project will free the Elwha River and allow all five species of Pacific salmon to return to more than 70 miles of habitat.
For more information about the project, including links to project webcams and the Dam Removal Blog, go to tinyurl.com/26n58n9.