Elwha River flows freely past destroyed dam portion
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Most of the Elwha River gushes through the newly removed portion of the Elwha Dam at left. Photo is from the Elwha Dam webcam, part of the National Park Service array at http://tinyurl.com/damwebcams.
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Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News
Bennett Pearson of Whidbey Island, left, and Joe Jacobsen of Port Angeles view the Elwha Dam at the new observation area Tuesday. The Elwha River was rushing through a section of the dam at left that had been removed.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Only 10 days after work began to remove the Elwha River Dam, water from Lake Aldwell has begun flowing over a big bite taken out of the south side.

The south spillway gates have been removed, and the gate floor has been blasted down to bedrock.

Then on Monday afternoon, cofferdams holding the river away from the site where crews and equipment had worked were cut open, and water rushed in to pour over the newly lowered lip.

By dusk Tuesday, water was slowing down over the north spillway. The river was switching sides of the canyon.

The work was completed faster than the 1 weeks predicted by construction crews when the demolition began.

The cofferdam will be rebuilt on the north side of the dam, the demolition will be repeated on the north spillway gates, and the channel will be dug deeper, Don Laford, project construction manager, said last week.

The channel will be cleared using explosives.

Holes for explosives are scheduled to be dug
Oct. 3-4, and detonations will begin a few days later, he said.

Work will stop Nov. 1 for a two-month “fish window” for spawning salmon.

Webcams set up for the National Park Service face both the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, the deltas at the southern ends of the Lake Aldwell and Lake Mills reservoirs, and the northern shore of each reservoir.

The webcams can be found at http://tinyurl.com/damwebcams or by clicking on the permanent link on the home page at www.peninsuladailynews.com.

The primary purpose of the cameras is to monitor sediment movement, but viewers can get a direct view of each dam as the removal process progresses, an Olympic National Park spokesman said.

The $325 million project to remove the 210-foot-tall Glines Canyon Dam and the 108-foot-tall Elwha Dam is expected to last three years.


Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Staff writer Rob Ollikainen contributed to this report.

Last modified: September 27. 2011 10:33PM
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