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Wanapum Dam: Huge crack in dam raises more questions than answers

Officials are scrambling to figure out a solution to the 65-foot-long crack in the Wanapum Dam which was first discoverd by divers. Although the Wanapum Dam is still generating electricity, an extensive investigation into the problem has been launched. As reported by KHQ on March 1, the crack is located in one of Wanapum Dam’s concrete spillgate supports.

In an effort to alleviate the pressure on the dam, officials have lowered the reservoir level behind the dam, a PUD spokesman said. This measure was taken so inspectors can get more information on the severity of the problem.

Officials have yet to figure out what exactly caused the crack in the Wanapum Dam but they are hoping video footage taken by divers can give them more details.

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"At this point we already know there's a serious problem," Public Utility District spokesman Thomas Stredwick said. "We want to make sure the spillway is stable enough that inspectors are safe when inspecting it."

On Monday, water levels above the Wanapum Dam (forebay) are predicted to be 20 feet lower than the normal high operating level, which will further reduce the pressure on the spillway. Stredwick also indicated that the Wanapum Dam crack poses no immediate threat to public safety.

Wanapum Dam is a hydroelectric project located on the Columbia River downstream (south) from Vantage, Washington where Interstate 90 crosses the Columbia from Grant County into Kittitas County. It is owned by the Grant County Public Utility District, Wikipedia writes.

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