The Spokane Hutterite Brethren must begin lowering the water behind an earthen dam on a tributary of Deep Creek to prevent flooding, Washington Department of Ecology officials said Thursday.
The dam near Reardan, which can store up to 13 million gallons of water, was built without permits. The Hutterite community has been working with the state to bring the dam into compliance with safety regulations.
Snowpack in the 600-acre watershed above the dam has renewed concerns about flooding, said Doug Johnson, Ecology’s dam safety engineer. If the warming trend continues, enough snow could melt to fill the reservoir and send water over the dam’s unlined spillway.
The department issued a regulatory order to the Hutterite Brethren, requiring the community to immediately pump or siphon 4 feet of water out of the reservoir, which would bring the water level to 16 feet below the dam’s crest. The reservoir must stay at that level until all dam safety deficiencies are resolved, Ecology officials said.