Condit Dam lies about 3.3 miles (5.3 km) upstream of the confluence where the White Salmon River empties into the Columbia River. The area below the dam is part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, while parts of the river upstream belong to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system. The area is famous for its natural beauty and recreational activities such as whitewater rafting and fishing. Impoundment of the river in 1911 removed 33 miles (53 km) of steelhead habitat and 14 miles (23 km) of salmon habitat.
The Condit Hydroelectric project, named after its lead engineer B.C. Condit, was built by Northwestern Electric Company in 1913 to supply electrical power for the Crown Willamette Paper Company in Camas, Wa. Surplus power was sold to Portland customers via a powerline across the Columbia River. The project was acquired in 1947 by its current owner, PacifiCorp.
The facility consists of Condit Dam, and its impoundment, Northwestern Lake; a woodstave pipeline that transports water to a surge tank and auxiliary spillway; two penstocks and the powerhouse. Two horizontally mounted francis turbines and generators produce electrical power, and the exhausted water rejoins the river about a mile (2 km) downstream of the dam.
The original design had fish ladders which were twice destroyed by floods shortly after the dam’s completion. The Washington State Fisheries Department then required Northwestern Electric to participate in a fish hatchery instead of rebuilding the fish ladders. This ended natural salmonid migration on the river.
In 1996, the federal government required that PacifiCorp make significant alterations to the dam to meet environmental codes, which included the addition of fish ladders. PacifiCorp deemed the modifications too expensive and applied for decommissioning. The PacifiCorp/Klickitat County decommissioning agreement can be found here.
With FERC approval of the decommissioning plan, the dam was breached in October 2011 and dam removal is occurring in 2012.
Please check back because there is much work to be done following the breach. In particular, check out our Husum/BZ Sub-Area plan issue.
(Text partially excerpted from Wikipedia)
Here is the history of the Condit removal issue.
Since Condit Dam was completed on the White Salmon River in 1913, it has blocked salmon and steelhead runs and damaged the river’s ecosystem.
The 125-foot high dam is an impassable barrier and has limited salmon and steelhead to only three river miles. Moreover, the dam holds back valuable sediment needed to replenish downstream river habitat. This map of the river shows PacifiCorp lands just above and below the dam.
In 1999, recognizing that Condit Dam had outlived its usefulness, the dam’s owner, Pacificorp, signed an agreement with more than 20 parties, including conservation groups, the Yakama Nation, government agencies and recreation groups to remove the dam and let the White Salmon River flow free.
According to the 2006 NOAA BiOp, 33 miles of steelhead habitat and 14 miles for salmon lie upstream of the dam.
Click on these links to learn more about . . .
DOE 401 of 12 Oct 2010
Condit Dam in the news
Condit Dam Chronology
Fish Habitat Above Dam
Legal Issues re: Condit Dam
Condit Dam Power Generation
Riparian Restoration Process