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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Interested members of the public are invited to review and comment on an environmental assessment that analyzes effects for proposed improvements to the Nippon Paper Industries USA (NPI) Water Treatment Plant. Improvements are necessary to protect the mill’s water supply during and after removal of the two Elwha River dams. The NPI paper mill is located on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles and is currently the sole user of the Elwha River industrial water supply line.
With the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams in place, the river’s sediment flow is curtailed and the gravel, sand and much of the silt settle onto the bottom of the reservoirs created by the two dams. Once the dams are removed, the restored free-flowing river will again carry its full load of natural sediment. A number of water quality protection facilities are currently under construction or are scheduled for construction and will protect the supply during and after dam removal. In accordance with the Elwha Fisheries and Ecosystem Restoration Act of 1992, these projects must be completed before dam removal can begin.
The proposed improvement project will protect the water supply for the NPI plant. The NPI paper-making process requires particularly clear water, requiring the plant to have its own water treatment facility. The Elwha Water Treatment Plant, currently under construction by the National Park Service, will remove sediment during dam removal to maintain existing turbidity levels for the City’s industrial water users. The proposed modifications to the NPI water treatment plant will remove even more sediment in order to provide a continued supply of water that will meet the mill’s requirements.
In addition to improvements to the NPI water treatment plant, the EA examines effects of a proposed outfall pipe to discharge the sediment removed by the improved water treatment plant into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Since sediment levels will increase during and after dam removal, additional sediment will be released into the Strait. In order to insure proper mixing and dispersion, the sediments must be released at a greater depth than they currently are, necessitating the outfall pipe to be extended further into the Strait.
The proposed 20-inch diameter pipe would extend 1,200 feet into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the end of the pipe located at a depth of 30 feet.
The EA may be reviewed and comments submitted at the website for the National Park Service’s Planning Environment and Public Comment system, https://parkplanning.nps.gov.
Comments must be received no later than June 29, 2009. Comments may also be sent to the following address no later than June 29, 2009.
Olympic National Park – Elwha Restoration Project Office
826 East Front Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362
Commenters should be aware that their entire comment – including personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While commenters can ask that their personal identifying information be withheld from public review, the NPS cannot guarantee that this will be possible.
For more information about this project, people may visit National Park Service’s Planning Environment and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov or call the Elwha Restoration Project Office at 360-565-1320.
Other water protection projects include the Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant and the Elwha Water Facilities, both of which are currently under construction.
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.
Other mitigation projects are also scheduled to be built over the next four years and 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 in 2011, after the water quality protection facilities are complete.