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Condit Dam Reservoir Drains In A Matter Of Hours After Dam Breaching

WHITE SALMON, Wash. - Southwest Washington’s White Salmon River is now running free for the first time in a century. Wednesday afternoon, demolition crews blew a hole through the 125-foot tall Condit Dam to begin a year-long tear down.

Pacific Power elected to tear down this dam because demolition is far cheaper than adding the fish ladders necessary to get an operating license renewal.

The draining of Northwestern Lake, which is the name of the reservoir behind Condit Dam, is an amazing scene. It’s a black-grey torrent, almost like a mud flow off of a volcano. It’s rushing downstream through a tunnel blown by the detonation.

The tunnel itself is about the size of a train tunnel. Huge logs, sides of the reservoir are sloughing off into it, all of it rushing downstream to the Columbia River.

The Columbia is about three miles downstream of here. There are no homes in the canyon so this essentially a man-made flood that is going to last for maybe four or five hours.

Dam removal will open about 33 miles of new river habitat for threatened steelhead, and shorter stretches for Chinook salmon, bull trout and lamprey.

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