Lower Elwha Klallam tribal crews raced against the clock for several days in July to rescue fish from a 300-yard section of the Elwha River that was dewatered to enable construction of a new water treatment plant.

Dodging construction equipment, brush and boulders while navigating the newly rerouted Elwha River, tribal staff hauled five gallon buckets full of steelhead, coho, chum and other species from pools of water in the original streambed.

The new water treatment facility will serve Port Angeles’ industrial water needs. It will also help remove excess sediment following the removal of the river’s two dams, the 108-foot Elwha Dam and the 210-foot Glines Canyon dam, which are scheduled for removal beginning in 2012. The river will be rerouted to its original channel in October, and will provide water to city of Port Angeles following dam removal.

“The reconstructed channel and intake system is an improvement over the old water withdrawal,” said Raymond Moses, tribal biologist. “The reconstructed channel has been designed to pass all species of salmon, allowing future access to upriver habitats.”

The dams were built in the early 1900s to provide hydroelectric power to the Port Angeles area. Both dams were built without fish ladders. Currently, salmon and steelhead can only spawn below the dams, in the lower five miles of the river.

The dams are owned by the federal government; the Olympic National Park is spearheading the removal effort. The total cost of the project is estimated at $308 million.


For more information, contact: Raymond Moses, Lower Elwha project biologist, at (360) 457-4012 or [email protected]; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or [email protected].