Federal regulators have granted a short extension to complete the removal of Condit Dam on southwest Washington's White Salmon River. Originally, demolition crews were supposed to be done with the nearly year-long project by August 31st.
The hydropower dam's owner asked for and received a two week extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Portland-based utility PacifiCorp now has until Sept 15th to take out the last bits of what was once 125-foot tall Condit Dam.
Utility spokesman Tom Gauntt says the dam is all gone except for some stubborn footings and an arch.
"It's down to just the very bottom of the canyon now," he says. "And that was indeed why we needed the extension. It gets pretty slow going when you're working in that kind of enclosed space."
Pacific Power chose demolition of the 100-year old dam over relicensing. The relicensing route would've required adding a fish ladder among other expensive upgrades.
A file photo of Condit Dam before it was breached by explosives. By D. Kvamme, PacifiCorp
Gauntt expects whitewater kayakers and rafters to get clearance to run the newly freed White Salmon River fairly soon after the last of the dam and a log jam are gone.
Gauntt also says biologists are keeping an eye out for those namesake fish. Chinook salmon could swim upriver on their own this fall for the first time in nearly a century.
On the Web:
Condit Dam project:
White Salmon Restored - A Timelapse Project:
Banks of White Salmon River in what was Northwestern Reservoir one hour after breach of Condit dam. Photo by Taylor Goforth/USFWS
Video of final deconstruction work: http://vimeo.com/47788439
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network