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PUD supports grant application to study Enloe Dam removal


AUGUST 24, 2022 BY MARCY STAMPER


The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) has thrown its support behind an effort to obtain $2.2 million for a feasibility study of the removal of Enloe Dam.

The PUD is one of 11 entities that provided letters of support for the competitive grant application for money available through the 2021 federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The application for the Enloe Dam Removal Project Planning and Feasibility Assessment was submitted last week by Trout Unlimited, which is heading up the effort in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.


The infrastructure law allocated $400 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for fish-passage barrier removal, said Warren Colyer, Western Water & Habitat Program Director for Trout Unlimited and the team lead for the Enloe feasibility study.


The dam, which hasn’t produced power in more than 50 years, is on the Similkameen River near Oroville. It is owned by the PUD.


The Enloe study would take two years. It starts with a comprehensive and objective feasibility study. It would develop design alternatives for dam removal and then take engineering to the 30% level for the preferred alternative so they can produce a cost estimate, according to the project summary submitted to NOAA.


The proposal also includes risk assessment, a liability-management plan, and public and stakeholder involvement. It would fund an analysis of sediment behind the dam, of fish habitat that could become available if the dam were removed, and research into water quality in the Similkameen River.


The study would be an objective evaluation of all alternatives, from leaving the dam in place to partial removal to complete removal. The proposed alternatives would go through an extensive environmental review by agencies, tribes and the public, according to the proposal.


If the study results in a recommendation of partial or complete dam removal, additional funds would have to be raised for the actual removal, Colyer said.

The NOAA money will be allocated over five years. Most of the funding is for conservation groups and nongovernmental organizations, but 15% has been designated for tribal entities. Because of the significant involvement of tribes from the United States and Canada, the same application is being submitted to both funding streams, Colyer said.


The PUD’s letter of support, signed by General Manager Steve Taylor, cites a resolution signed in July by the PUD commissioners supporting a comprehensive feasibility study to evaluate the potential removal of Enloe Dam. The PUD’s requirements specify that an agency must assume all responsibility and liability for dam removal and that there must be a firm source of funding.


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