Safety Closures Near Condit Dam in South Central Washington

October 20, 2011

WHITE SALMON, Wash. — With public interest growing in viewing the breach of the Condit Dam scheduled for approximately noon Oct. 26, PacifiCorp and local law enforcement officials are announcing a series of safety-related closures near the White Salmon River and Northwestern Lake.

  • Powerhouse Road will remain closed to the public past its intersection with Wallace Road.
  • Highway 141 Alternative will be closed from 10 am to 2 pm Oct. 26 for its entire length. There will be no parking along Highway 141 Alternative.
  • Law enforcement officials will be at the mouth of the White Salmon, making the area off limits to any parking along Highway 14. Additional patrols will also be along the river bank and in adjacent areas that could provide access to the canyon.
  • Enforcement officers from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission will be patrolling the Columbia River keeping private boat traffic away from the mouth.
  • The in-lieu tribal fishing area at the mouth of the river will also be closed and patrolled.
  • Private property owners along the White Salmon River above and below the dam have posted their property to warn any potential sightseers against trespassing.
  • The White Salmon River upstream of the dam and to the Northwestern Lake Road bridge (the area formerly Northwestern Lake) is closed to boating of any type. After the breach, the newly-forming river channel will be extremely dangerous with large amounts of debris and unstable banks. This portion of the river will not be open for recreational boating until the fall of 2012.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration will issue a temporary flight restriction in the immediate area the morning of Oct. 26. PacifiCorp contractors will be using the air space to patrol the area and check for any issues in the canyon, at the blast area near the dam and upstream to the former lakebed.

“These closures are necessary for safety,” said Tom Hickey, project manager for PacifiCorp. “We are taking absolutely all appropriate precautions, but we are blowing a hole in the base of a dam. This is not a normal occurrence and we need to be sure that no one is near the blast zone or close to the surge of water that will come down the canyon or in a dangerous situation above the dam.”

The White Salmon River will be very muddy and contain sediment from behind the dam. The sediment will temporarily cloud the Columbia River for several miles, but not do long term damage. Ports and communities downstream from Bonneville Dam may also see some discoloration in the river for a several days following the breach, depending on prevailing river conditions. Municipal water supplies will not be affected.

Hickey added: “We appreciate that people may want to see this historic event, but safety has to win out over curiosity. The area around the dam will become a highly restricted area with barricades and a strong security and law enforcement presence. Images of the breach will be available within a few hours of the event. The breaching will also be webcast live. We urge everyone to remain a safe distance away from the blast area and watch the webcast.”

PacifiCorp will continue to post updates on closures and restrictions in the Condit area as work proceeds. Go to www.pacificorp.com/condit for updates. Signs will be posted in the immediate areas to remind the public about the closures.