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Wanapum Dam spillway crack forces additional ‘drawdown” Monday, raises concern

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There is an update today on the concern after a crack was found in the Wanapum Dam in Washington state last week. Wanapum Dam authorities announced Monday that water levels behind the dam were lowered by 20 feet as a precaution.

Dam officials say they are working in conjunction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in addition to independent engineers. The Grant Public Utility District also is continuing to inspect the crack found in the concrete spillway section of the Wanapum Dam on February 27.

The dam is located about 2 hours southeast of Seattle.

The PUD says that studies called for a water drawdown in the Wanapum Reservoir, which is part of the Columbia River. The drawdown is strictly precautionary, authorities said Monday.

Spillway

The PUD says the spillway allows the water to spill past the dam instead of running through the electrical generating turbines. Each of the Wanapum Dam’s 12 spillway gates is designed to handle 80,000 cubic feet of water per second. Authorities say that if a spillway failed, the other spillways could handle the excess water.

“The team of engineers and regulatory agency personnel are working through the weekend to provide constant monitoring and on-going evaluation of the area. Public safety is the utility’s paramount concern,” Wanapum Dam authorities stated Monday.

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For now, authorities say there is no danger for people living around the dam. Dam officials are watching the dam very closely and will take further action if it is warranted.

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