YAKIMA, WA - The freezing temperatures of winter haven't put a damper on the construction of Nelson Dam.

The Nelson Dam is on the Naches Tributary of the Yakima River, It was originally built to divert irrigation water for The City of Yakima and the Naches-Cowiche irrigation company.

At first it didn't have fish passage.

The original dam was built in the 1920s and they rebuilt it in 1985 but now they are working on a project that will help benefit the environment and benefit the communities around it.

In the 80's they were trying to create better fish passage, but it still didn't work because of river conditions.

Now, the project is set to have benefits for both the environment and the communities

"So what this project is doing is taking that old concrete structure out and replacing it with a new modern system that will still allow irrigation water to be diverted but will also allow free flow of the river" said Randy Beehler, Community and Public Affairs Director for the City of Yakima.

The City of Yakima has been working with Yakima County on the project from the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.

"Probably most importantly it opens up, about actually a little bit more than 300 miles up stream of fish habitat" said Beehler.

They have been working on this project since August 2021, having about 5 months of work under their belt they are not planning on stopping anytime soon, even if there is bad weather.

"Winter weather always tends to affect construction projects a little bit" said Beehler. "Slows things down but no, no major impacts have been, have occurred because of the snow fall."

Even though there is ice in the river, construction says they are not worried about it getting stuck and flooding.

"These conditions, cold conditions don't usually result in flooding issues its more common for that to occur when temperatures warm up" said Beehler.

The City of Yakima says they are hoping in the spring they don't have to worry about flooding in the area of the dam and other parts of Yakima once it starts to warm up.