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Bureau Awards $76 Million For Juvenile Fish Passage Facilities At Cle Elum Dam In Upper Yakima Basin
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2018 (PST)

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a contract last week for the construction of juvenile fish passage facilities at Cle Elum Dam in the upper Yakima River basin in central Washington.


The $75,967,000 contract was awarded to Spokane’s Garco Construction Inc. Sept. 17. Construction of helix, gate and intake facilities at the dam is specifically to provide a safe downstream passage from the reservoir for juvenile salmon, such as the sockeye introduced recently to the reservoir by the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. Construction is to begin next spring and be completed during the summer in 2023.


“The fish passage project is a vital partnership with the Yakama Nation and the State of Washington to restore ecological connectivity and natural production of salmon,” said Project Manager Richard Visser. “The construction of a helix, gate, and intake will provide a safe downstream passage from the reservoir to the Cle Elum River for juvenile salmon, including sockeye.”


Sockeye salmon have been returning to the reservoir for about seven years after being eradicated in the 1930s with the addition of the impassable Cle Elum Dam in the upper basin (sockeye need lakes to rear). The Yakama reintroduction program has been trucking the salmon beyond the dam.


That project is a part of the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Plan, supported by the Washington Department of Ecology’s Office of Columbia River (see CBB, October 21, 2016, “Re-introduced Sockeye Salmon Returning In Growing Numbers To Upper Yakima Basin’s Lake Cle Elum,”


According to Ecology information, the downstream fish passage facility at Cle Elum will consist of a multi-level inlet ramp with gated openings that will operate at various reservoir levels and feed into a helical structure designed to maximize fish survival as they travel to the downstream side of the dam.


The State of Washington and Reclamation continue to fund the construction under a 50/50 cost-share agreement, according to Ecology spokesperson Joye Redfield-Wilder in a tweet.


Lake Cle Elum on the Cle Elum River existed prior to the dam, but the 165-foot high dam that opened in 1933 raised the level of the lake at the same time it blocked passage for anadromous fish.


The Tribes chose the lake for its reintroduction program because it is one of the largest in the basin and has excellent habitat in the streams above the dam where sockeye can spawn, Yakama Nation Fisheries research scientist Mark Johnston, said in 2016. Once the passage facility is complete, it will open up about 30 miles of nearly pristine habitat. It also will provide greater connectivity up and down the river for bull trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.


Work under the contract involves constructing the juvenile fish facility intake structure, gate chamber, and helix chamber from the previously constructed secant pile shaft and tunnel, a BOR news release says. Principal components are earthwork; cast-in-place and precast, reinforced concrete features; structural steel, metal fabrications, architectural features; and mechanical and electrical features.


The Cle Elum Dam is an earth-fill dam that is owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation. Cle Elum Dam is located on the Cle Elum River about 75 miles northwest of Yakima, Washington.


The BOR news release is at

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