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Agreement reached on Elwha sediment issue

September 13th, 2013 - 6:19am

(Port Angeles) -- Officials from the City of Port Angeles and Olympic National Park reached agreement last week on a path forward for protecting the City's water supply while continuing removal of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River.

Since spring, heavy sediment released from behind the two dams has clogged the water treatment facility near the mouth of the river. The facility was put in specifically to ensure water quality for the City of Port Angeles.

Sediment, gravel, and woody debris that were intended to be screened out by the water intake structure began moving further into the system, clogging pumps, filters and other equipment. That led the City of Port Angeles to rely more on its Ranney well in order to avoid the additional sediment now in its Elwha water supply.

The agreement between the city and the National Park Service spells out responsibilities for dealing with the sediment issue.

The National Park Service (NPS) plans to re-initiate removal of Glines Canyon Dam this fall. Removal of the 210-foot high Glines Canyon Dam began in September 2011 and is scheduled for completion in September 2014. Approximately 50 feet of the dam remains. Notching a section of the dam this fall is expected to release less sediment overall than continuing to delay dam removal. The overall Elwha River Restoration project budget remains at $325 million.

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