Water plant part of Elwha dam removal celebrated

The Peninsula Daily News reported a major milestone toward removing the two Elwha River dams – the groundbreaking of a water treatment plant. Lower Elwha tribal council member Dennis Sullivan was quoted.

More than 70 people gathered Saturday morning in mixed rain and snow along the Elwha River for a groundbreaking ceremony for the second of two water treatment plants.

The plants are being built to protect Port Angeles drinking water during the Elwha River dams removal project.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, said the federal government’s significant investment to protect the area’s water quality should be appreciated.

The dam removal project’s 2004 cost estimate was $185 million, but the two water treatment plant projects alone — originally estimated at $50 million of that total — are costing $94.1 million by themselves.

The National Park Service has been planning to take down the Elwha Dam and Glines Canyon Dam since the 1992 Elwha River Restoration Act authorized their removal to restore salmon habitat.

The federal law also required construction of two treatment plants to protect the water supplies of the city of Port Angeles, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and its fish hatchery as well as the state fish rearing channel.