Stimulus funds accelerate dam removal

The long-awaited Elwha River dams removal and river restoration project - originally planned for 2006 - now will begin one year earlier than the 2012 target date due to federal stimulus funding.

"Not only will more than 200 jobs be created in the next year, but dam removal will begin in 2011, one year earlier than projected," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, announced the U.S. Interior Department funding on April 22.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes $54.7 million for nine mitigation projects necessary

before the two concrete dams on the Elwha River actually start coming down.

They include a culvert removal, improved tribal fish hatchery, a greenhouse for growing native plants to be used in restoring vegetation, improved flood protection and mitigation for well owners and individual and tribal septic system owners along the river.

The three-year Elwha River dams removal project will cost about $308 mil-lion, plus or minus 15 percent, according to a National Park Service estimate released in February 2008.

The federal law also required construction of two treatment plants, one for municipal use and the other for industrial use.

They are designed to protect the water supplies of the city of Port Angeles, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe and its fish hatchery as well as the state fish-rearing channel.

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