Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Dam, Again

So, the Howard Hanson dam has been in the news again, and not altogether in a good way.

First there was the news that they'd decided on a temporary repair (a 'grout curtain'), costing eight million dollars, that they felt might help with the leak that's undermining the dam's earthen abutment. It won't fix the problem, but with luck it might slow down the rate at which things are getting worse.

Then, the Army Core of Engineers makes a surprise announcement that they're planning to spend two hundred million dollars on a fish tower -- essentially a big fish trap where fish swim in and not be able to swim out. Once collected, they'll load the fish onto a truck and drive them around the dam and dump them back in several miles downriver.*

And now today a warning was sent out about "higher risk of flooding" in the Green River Valley, particularly in Auburn "north of 22nd Street NE and those areas immediately bordering the Green River and Mill Creek."

My favorite part is that along with this warning came the reassurance: "It is important to note the Army Corps assures us there is no risk of the dam failing. Renters, homeowners, and businesses are advised to review their insurance policies to ensure they are covered for flooding, landslides, sinkholes, and other issues commonly associated with significant rain events."

So, the official word is no worries, but get that flood insurance right away. How reassuring. Almost as reassuring as discovering that the Army Core of Engineers, who have done untold damage to the whole river system in the Puget Sound region, is more focused on a fish tower than halting the ongoing damage to the dam holding back a considerable reservoir upriver of us. I'm glad Kent is repairing its levees rather than trusting that All Will Be Well.

--John R.

P.S.: By the way, there's a pretty good picture of the dam here:


*or so the article said. I suspect they'll actually be trucking them UPriver to get them past the dam, since the stated goal is to restore salmon spawning grounds cut off a half-century ago by the dam.

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