State signs off on Elwha dam removal

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Peninsula News Network

Port Angeles, WA - The State Department of Ecology has given its approval to those plans to tear down the Elwha River dams to restore fish runs on the river.

While the Elwha restoration project is actually a federal effort, with most of the effected lands lying within the Olympic National Park boundaries, the demolition of the dams is expected to release tons of sediment over a period of several years effecting water quality, which is controlled by the state.
But this week Ecology's Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program issued the critical Section 401 Water Quality certification, which is a federal Clean Water Act permit, certifying that the dam removal and ecosystem restoration will meet state water quality standards and other water protection regulations.

Without Ecology's certification, the National Park Service, which is the lead agency for the Elwha River restoration project, wouldn’t have be able to secure the other needed permits from other agencies, or hire contractors to perform the initial work for dam removal.

In addition to restoring the historic salmon runs on the Elwha, its thought the project will also recover the natural flow of sediments down the river, helping to rebuild beaches and other natural features like Ediz Hook and Dungeness Spit in the coming decades.



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