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Contact: Penny Wagner / Olympic National Park, 360-565-3005
Contact: Dan McKeen / City of Port Angeles, 360-417-4500
Officials from the City of Port Angeles and the Department of the Interior, acting through the National Park Service, have reached agreement on the transfer of the Elwha Water Facilities. The agreement was signed last week by Port Angeles Mayor Sissi Bruch and by National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith on Monday.
Under the transfer agreement, the City of Port Angeles agreed to accept ownership of the Elwha Water Facilities in exchange for funds for maintenance, repairs, and other activities related to and associated with the facilities. The Elwha Water Facilities include the Elwha Water Treatment Plant, Elwha Surface Water Intake, Temporary Pump Diversion Facility, and area flood protection. These facilities were part of the water mitigation facilities constructed prior to the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams.
Other mitigation facilities include the Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant, a state-of-the-art municipal water treatment plant that was designed to protect the City’s domestic water supply. It was transferred to the City in 2011.
The surface intake replaces the City's former rock weir that was in the same location, allowing for continued water delivery to the McKinley Paper Company mill, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Elwha Rearing Channel, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe's fish hatchery. The surface diversion can also act as an emergency backup to the Ranney Collector, which supplies the City's municipal water.
As part of the agreement, funding was added to allow the City to provide water transmission of up to 30 cubic feet per second to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s fish hatchery for a period of 10 years commencing on the date of transfer.
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles stated: “This new agreement between the City and Park Service is one of the important final pieces of the dam removal process and will benefit the entire community. The Tribe is especially pleased that it incorporates our previously recognized right to receive Elwha River water for our hatchery, which contributes to a recovering fishery that likewise benefits all.”
The City and National Park Service will continue to work together to ensure that a smooth transition and takeover of the facilities occurs on August 14, 2018. The facilities have been operated under a contract with Veolia Corporation since 2011 when the dam deconstruction began.
Dan McKeen, Port Angeles City Manager stated: “The agreement is the result of hard work that included the National Park Service, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the Department of Interior. The City is pleased we came to an amicable agreement and now we can focus on an efficient transition and the continuation of providing water to our industrial customers.”
The successful agreement is the culmination of two years of negotiations involving the City of Port Angeles, the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.
“We are appreciative of the positive cooperation exhibited by the City and the Tribe during the negotiations and we are very happy to have reached a satisfactory agreement,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “The City and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe are valued neighbors and important park partners.”
The Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act of 1992 authorized the National Park Service to acquire the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dam hydroelectric power projects for decommissioning and demolition for habitat restoration. Removal of the dams began in September 2011 and was complete by August 2014. Dam removal reinstated the natural flow of the river, mobilized a high volume of sediment that had accumulated behind the dams, and restored sand bars, estuaries and beaches at the river’s mouth. The Elwha River is free-flowing and access for migratory fish has been restored.