The Condit Hydroelectric Project was located on the White Salmon River in south-central Washington, approximately three river miles upstream from its confluence with the Columbia River. PacifiCorp agreed to decommission and remove the project dam and water conveyance system in accordance with the 1999 Condit Hydroelectric Project Settlement Agreement and the related Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Surrender Order issued in December 2010.
To view videos that describe pre-decommissioning planning and activities, breach event and demolition activities click Decommissioning Activities above.
Work began in June of 2011, the dam was breached on October 26, 2011, and dam removal was completed on September 14, 2012. The former reservoir area was revegetated in March of 2013. To read more about the decommissioning, view the Fact Sheets & Newletters from the link above.
Steps involved in decommissioning the Condit project included constructing new bridge piers for the Northwestern Lake Road bridge which provides public access across the White Salmon River, relocation of a City of White Salmon waterline and removing the dam, intake structure, wood stave flowline from dam to surge tank, surge tank, penstocks from surge tank to powerhouse, and powerhouse tailrace wall. The powerhouse remains. The penstock entrances into the powerhouse turbines have been blocked as well as the exit to the tailrace. Environmentally sensitive materials such as hydraulic oils and batteries have been removed from the powerhouse.
Per regulatory permits, PacifiCorp is monitoring the establishment of newly planted vegetation, slope stability within the former reservoir area, water quality within the former project area and the extent of the newly formed delta at the mouth of the White Salmon River.
Access Restored to White Salmon River, successful Condit Dam Removal
November 5, 2012
A year after a dynamite blast punched a hole in the Condit Dam, the last remnants of the structure are gone and access restrictions on the White Salmon River are now lifted downstream of Northwestern Park. Caution is still advised as the rapids on the lower river are significant. Read full News Release (PDF).
White Salmon Outfitters and Local Paddlers
September 21, 2012
The lower river section remains closed at this time due to the ongoing demolition of concrete structures and slope restoration along the flowline alignment above the east bank of the river. This work is taking place on steep slopes immediately adjacent the river channel and poses significant risk of debris and rock falling into the river. Up to two weeks may be needed to complete this portion of the Project.
On a more positive note, we have successfully completed the removal of the dam structure from the river. Additionally, we have removed a number of logs from the log jam in the narrows but a considerable amount of wood remains jammed in this location posing significant risks. PacifiCorp is currently evaluating the feasibility of removing additional woody material from the jam. Due to the current fall Chinook spawning run, any additional wood removal is suspended until early October.
Pacificorp will keep you updated on the status of the flowline restoration effort and when this reach of the river will be open for public use.
White Salmon River near Condit Dam still off limits
November 1, 2011
WHITE SALMON, Wash. — Following the breach of Condit Dam that quickly drained Northwestern Lake, the White Salmon River remains an unsafe place to be both above and below the dam. (Read more)
Condit Dam breach marks new turn in river’s future
October 26, 2011
WHITE SALMON, Wash. – After nearly a century of producing electricity for PacifiCorp customers, the White Salmon River in south central in south central Washington is again running unimpeded to the Columbia River. A muffled roar and a puff of pulverized concrete preceded a rush of water today at the dam, about three miles upstream from the White Salmon’s confluence with the Columbia River. (Read more)
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. (Read more)
Condit Decommissioning Overview
PacifiCorp Energy owns and operates the Condit Hydroelectric Project, which was completed in 1913 on the White Salmon River in Skamania County and Klickitat County, Washington. The project is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as project number 2342. The project is located approximately 3.3-miles upstream from the confluence of the White Salmon and Columbia Rivers. Project facilities consist of a 125-foot high, 471-foot long concrete gravity diversion dam, an intake structure that directs water into a 13.5-foot diameter by 5,100-foot long wood stave flowline, and through a 40-foot diameter concrete surge tank. The flowline bifurcates inside the surge tank into two 9-foot diameter penstocks that supply water to the powerhouse. The powerhouse contains two double horizontal Francis turbines with an installed capacity of 14,700 kilowatts. The project creates a reservoir, Northwestern Lake, which extends 1.8-miles upstream of the dam and covers approximately 92 acres.
PacifiCorp Energy has regulatory approvals to remove the project in accordance with the amended Condit Settlement Agreement and the Project Removal Design Report. Regulatory approvals include Clean Water Act permits issued under Section 401 by the Washington Department of Ecology, and issued under Section 404 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a Surrender Order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The method for dam removal involves clearing sediment and debris immediately upstream from the tunnel and then drilling and blasting a 13-foot by 18-foot drain tunnel in the base of the dam to within a few feet of the dam’s face. During the month of October, sediment and debris immediately upstream from the dam will be cleared to form a pathway and then the remainder of the tunnel will be blasted to drain the reservoir and flush impounded sediments out of the reservoir as rapidly as possible. Following the final tunnel blast, the drain tunnel will discharge at a rate of about 10,000 cubic feet-per-second – approximately 25 percent of the estimated peak discharge during the February 1996 flood event on the White Salmon River. This will drain the reservoir in approximately six hours. Rapid draining of the reservoir is expected to mobilize much of the estimated 2.4-million cubic yards of sediment that has accumulated behind the dam since its construction. Previous modeling has indicated that between 1.6 million to 2.2-million cubic yards of sediment will be discharged into the White Salmon River immediately following dam removal.
Once the reservoir is drained, activities will focus on addressing the sediment and slope stability within the former reservoir area. In the spring of 2012, the dam will be excavated and removed along with the flowline, surge tank, and penstocks. Concrete from the dam will be buried onsite; other materials will be salvaged or transported to the Klickitat County waste facility. The powerhouse will be left intact. The upstream cofferdam in the White Salmon River present from original dam construction will be removed from the river as soon as practicable after the breach. PacifiCorp Energy expects to complete the dam removal process within one year, start to finish. Subsequently, restoration of the former reservoir areas may take an additional year or more.
Removal of Condit dam is expected to provide the following benefits:
- Anadromous salmonids will be provided access of up to 18 miles of White Salmon River mainstem and tributary habitats that have been inaccessible since the early 1990s. Restoration of natural runs of anadromous fish upstream of the project dam is consistent with the fishery management goals of the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Yakama Nation
- Dam removal offers the greatest potential for full utilization of anadromous fish habitat, including habitat inundated by Northwestern Lake, and therefore, full restoration of anadromous salmonids within the White Salmon River basin.
- Dam removal will benefit wildlife dependent upon anadromous fish in the area of the river reach upstream of river mile (RM) 3.3.
- Dam removal will provide increased whitewater recreation opportunities. Whitewater recreation is an important and popular use of the White Salmon River.
Decommissioning Management Plans
The following decommissioning management plans have incorporated agency comments, as well as more detail from the decommissioning contractor. These plans were submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval.
Transmittal Letters for FERC
March 15, 16 & 18, 2011
Sediment Assessment, Stabilization, and Management Plan
Version: March 15, 2011. Supplements to the plan were submitted to FERC on May 5, 2011 and May 11, 2011. Plan approved by FERC on May 12, 2011.
Erosion Control Plan
Version: March 15, 2011. Approved by FERC May 20, 2011.
Revegetation and Wetlands Management Plan
Version: March 15, 2011. Approved by FERC May 9, 2011.
- USACE Clean Water Act Section 404 Permit
Enclosure 1 - Maps and drawings
Enclosure 2 - 401 Certificate
Enclosure 3 - Compliance Certification (of project completion)
Enclosure 4 - Management Plans
Enclosure 5 - Memo, Proposed Revegetation and Wetland Management Plan
Enclosure 6 - NOAA Biological Opinion
Enclosure 7 - USFWS Biological Opinion
Enclosure 8 - HPMP (This document is considered Privileged Information and is not available for viewing)
WDOE Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification
Issued October 12, 2010
- 90-day Post-Breach Preliminary Sediment Behavior Report
- 120-day Post-Reservoir-Dewatering Assessment Report
October 26, 2011 - Reservoir Before Breach
October 26, 2011 - Reservoir After Breach