Gov. Inslee: Cracked Wanapum Dam A Unique Problem, Not Systemic In River System

By Anna King

Wednesday Governor Jay Inslee was able to get up close to drilling machines on the damaged Wanapum Dam in central Washington. It came out this week that the dam’s massive crack was caused by fundamental design errors and bad concrete pours in 1960.

Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee toured the cracked Wanapum Dam on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Jay Inslee’s office.I stood with Governor Inslee in a tiny irrigated oasis amid the sagebrush – a picnic park in the shadow of Wanapum Dam. I asked him if he was concerned about other dams in the region given the fundamental problems with Wanapum’s design and construction.

Jay Inslee: “I would say from what I know right now, this has enough uniqueness of how this error was made, that I’m unaware of reasons to believe that there would be a systemic problem throughout our dam system. That would be surprising to me. Nonetheless, I’m going to talk to some engineers and make sure that’s the case.”

Grant County officials don’t expect the 61-million-dollar fix to be completed until near the end of the year. Meanwhile, the drawdown of water behind the cracked dam has closed recreation on the river. That’s a problem for local tourism. Inslee says there’s no plans for state aid right now …

Jay Inslee: “ … but that’s one of the reasons I’ve come to find out what the challenges are, and this is going to help us.”

Photo: Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee toured the cracked Wanapum Dam on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Jay Inslee’s office.

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