What is the regulatory status of Enloe Dam?
On August 13, 2019, as affirmed on December 19, 2019, FERC issued an order terminating the Enloe Dam Hydropower License. Upon termination of the FERC license, regulatory authority fell to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology).
Enloe Dam’s placement on federal property managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requires the District to have a Grant of Right of Way (ROW) from BLM. The current ROW expires on June 30, 2063.
What is the District currently required to do with Enloe Dam?
As the owner of Enloe Dam, the District is obligated to ensure public safety and to meet all dam safety regulations of both Ecology and BLM. In order to meet these obligations, the District is undertaking a visual inspection of portions of the Dam that are normally inaccessible for inspection because they are beneath the flows over the spillway. This visual inspection will require “dewatering” a portion of the face of the Dam.
District staff performed an alternatives analysis to examine several dewatering alternatives, specifically taking into account safety, environmental impacts, the ability to repeat the dewatering, the likelihood of success, and overall project costs. Based on the results of the evaluation, the District elected to pursue rehabilitating the existing, inoperable gate system and installing a section of new penstock to divert water.
The District is working with a contractor to complete the work necessary to dewater the face of the Dam. Once completed, this infrastructure will allow for the diversion of up to 1,000 cubic feet per second of water around the right bank of Enloe Dam through the newly replaced gates and the new section of steel penstock. This solution will allow for additional inspections to be conducted in the future, for as long as the Dam remains in place.
What is the schedule for the Enloe Dam Safety Repair and Maintenance Project?
The District is beginning construction in April 2021 and construction will continue through December 2021. During this time the Similkameen Spur Trail will be closed due to heavy equipment access and daily vehicular use. Documents summarizing the construction project can be found on the BLM website at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1504135/570.
Once the new intake gates and short penstocks are installed, the contractor will return in late spring 2022 to open the gates for the first time, as long as permitting thresholds are met. After the gates are opened for the first time, during the spring freshet, the construction project will be complete.
Pending the construction project staying on schedule, the goal is to conduct a complete dam safety inspection, including the dam face, toe, and abutments, during low flows of fall 2022.
Why did the District decide to not continue pursuing re-energization?
On November 19, 2018, the Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a motion to no longer pursue electrification of Enloe Dam and to permit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to terminate. This decision was based on the complexity, risk, and considerable cost involved in restoring power generation. The Board of Commissioners made this decision in the best interests of the ratepayers, considering the current availability of cheaper sources of power.
Why is the District still spending money on Enloe Dam?
Since the establishment of the PUD and its acquisition of Enloe Dam, there have always been financial obligations associated with owning and maintaining the structure. The District is at all times committed to fulfilling its obligation to ensure the safety of the structure with the least cost impacts to its ratepayers. Dam safety investments need to be made now, regardless of the future direction. Any decision on the future of Enloe Dam will require a lengthy, likely decades-long process, and the District cannot in the meantime neglect its duty to ensure public safety.
DAM REMOVAL INQUIRIES
The District is aware of the desire on the part of some stakeholders to remove Enloe Dam. However, there is no requirement to do so. Nevertheless, the District remains open to reviewing comprehensive proposals from interested stakeholders that include, but are not limited to, the following criteria:
- Independent feasibility assessment that collects and evaluates scientific data, including:
- Determination if Enloe Dam was built on the second set of falls or a run of falls.
- How anadromous fish would pass after removal, either naturally or artificially.
- Would artificial passage be allowed by all interested parties?
- What agencies will fund and manage the new fish populations?
- Process for establishing new ESA habitat above Enloe Dam and impacts to private property owners, irrigators, and the Palmer Lake fishery.
- Delineation of suitable habitat for anadromous fish above Enloe Dam, with current data.
- Comprehensive sediment analysis of the 2.43 million cubic yards of sediment, behind Enloe Dam, approved by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
- Process for cultural resource mitigation requirements by removing a structure on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Dam removal cost estimate based on preliminary engineering designs.
- Ability to compete for funding with other habitat projects in the Pacific Northwest.
- Approval from the Canadian government will allow new fish populations to cross the border.
- Scoping process for the public, upstream and downstream landowners, affected cities, irrigators, and other interested parties.
- Identification of a partner with the means to fund Dam removal.
- Identification of a partner who can relieve the District of any future liability.
The District has been engaged in Enloe Dam removal conversations as far back as the 1960s. In 2015, the Board of Commissioners under Resolution No. 1603, continued its direction to staff to work with proponents of dam removal. That offer has remained open as there is clearly a desire by stakeholders to remove the dam. However, despite entertaining the same discussions over the past six years with the same dam removal proponents, there has been no new data and no comprehensive removal plan.
If dam removal advocates would like the District to engage in their process, then they must develop a plan that meets the above criteria. The District no longer has the resources to entertain discussions that do not contain concrete scientific data and a comprehensive proposal. Therefore, requests made to the District to meet with dam removal advocates or answer questions will be directed back to the above criteria.