Elwha Restoration Project Update

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Date: February 4, 2008
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005

Construction work has begun in earnest on the $24.5 million Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant, with excavation underway for two huge “clear well” tanks that will hold clean water during the final stages of chlorination.

A Notice to Proceed will be issued this month, giving the go-ahead to contractor Watts/DelHur AJV to begin constructing the $69.6 million Elwha Water Facilities project.

Combined, these two projects represent one of the largest contract awards in the history of the National Park Service.

“Thanks to years of hard work and commitment from many partners, construction of these two projects means that we’re one big step closer to dam removal and Elwha ecosystem restoration,” said Sue McGill, Acting Superintendent of Olympic National Park. “We’ve passed the mid point on this project, both in time and financing and we’re looking forward to dam removal.”

The Elwha Water Facilities project will take three years to complete, with adjustments possible based on any changes that may be required during construction. The Port Angeles Water Treatment Plan is expected to take two years to build.

These projects will protect the drinking water and industrial water supply for Port Angeles and other Elwha water users; these and other mitigation projects must be completed and operational before the dams can be removed.

With finalization of the two most recent contract awards, more current, complete and accurate information is available for estimating the total project cost and timeline. Removal of both the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams will occur simultaneously and is estimated to begin in 2012 and take approximately three years to complete.

The last cost estimate was developed in 2001 and had not been substantially updated since then. In 2007, the National Park Service completed a comprehensive project review and developed the current estimate. Based on current and projected future rates of inflation and including the recent dramatic increase in the cost of construction materials, the National Park Service estimates that the total project cost for Elwha restoration will be approximately $308 million, plus or minus 15 percent. The recent contract awards of the Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant and Elwha Water Facilities projects have been within expected ranges of costs and have helped to confirm the new project budget.

The Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant will provide water for Port Angeles that meets State of Washington drinking water standards during and after removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams. It is designed to provide up to 10.6 million gallons of clean, treated water each day for city residents.

The Elwha Water Facilities will include several component projects, including the Elwha Surface Water Intake, the Elwha Water Treatment Plant, improvements to the Crown Z Water Road and Area Flood Protection. The water treatment plant will remove sediment during and after removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams to maintain existing turbidity levels for the City’s industrial water users. Area Flood Protection will maintain protection for new and existing facilities in the area, including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Elwha Rearing Channel, the City’s Ranney collector and the Crown Z Water Road.

Designs are being completed for additional mitigation projects also scheduled to be built over the next four years. These include an improved tribal fish hatchery that will meet the needs of the restoration project, a greenhouse for growing native plants to be used in restoring vegetation to the areas now inundated by reservoirs and mitigation for well owners and individual and tribal septic system owners along the river.

Restoration of the Elwha River ecosystem is an investment in the future that will result in ecological, cultural and economic benefits to the Olympic Peninsula and beyond. The Elwha is the largest watershed on the Olympic Peninsula and was once one of the most productive salmon streams in the Pacific Northwest, home to all five species of Pacific salmon, as well as other fish species. Two dams, constructed in the early 1900s, now block fish from all but the lower five miles of the river. Removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dam will restore the Elwha to its natural, free-flowing condition and will once again allow fish access to over 70 river miles of habitat now protected within Olympic National Park. Dam removal will begin after the water quality protection facilities are complete.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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