Workers on top of Wanapum Dam along the Columbia River noticed something unusual in the concrete last week.
VANTAGE, WA - Workers on top of Wanapum Dam along the Columbia River noticed something unusual in the concrete last week.
Divers were sent under water, and that's when they found the source of the problem. A 65 foot long crack, two inches deep.
"This is a big deal for us, and we're treating it as such," said Thomas Stredwick, a Spokesperson for Grant County Public Utility District. "It's a serious incident that has never happened in the history of Wanapum or Priest Rapids Dams, and we're taking every precaution to make sure that the public is safe and we're going to continue to keep that at the forefronts of our minds."
Stredwick said they started taking water out of the dam so investigators can get a better look at the damage. Water levels are 20 feet below normal.
"To begin alleviating some pressure on that portion of the dam," said Stredwick. "Begin to stabilize that portion of the dam as much as possible, and not until that portion of the dam is stabilized are we going to be able to really examine the full extent of that crack."
We ran into some people near the Wanapum boat launch. They showed us several boats that were stuck because of the low water. The public affairs officer said they hope to have a target river elevation by Tuesday morning.
"I think hopefully in the next 24-48 hours, we're going to have some more concrete data to move forward with," said Stredwick.
The Grant County Public Utility District said there's no immediate threat to people living downstream, and no one has been forced to evacuate their homes.
The dam continues to provide electricity for people living in Grant County.
Once investigators stabilize the dam, they'll look at potential causes for the crack.