June 9, 2009 in Region

Water runs through normally dry Chelan River

Associated Press

View photos of the Chelan River project from the Wenatchee World.

CHELAN — They turned on the Chelan River, and it works.

The Chelan County Public Utility District is spending nearly $16 million to restore year-round flow to the Chelan River Gorge, a four-mile stretch of river that tumbles from the dam at the foot of Lake Chelan to the Columbia River, about 400 feet below.

As a test, crews started spilling water Monday into the normally dry river bed. Water pooled near the river’s mouth and spilled into a carefully engineered channel with strategically placed boulders, logs and rocks, all to provide new spawning habitat for steelhead and chinook salmon.

The water will flow from Lake Chelan Dam until early August for the test. Work under way at the dam will allow a permanent, year-round flow to start in October for the first time since the dam was built in the 1920s.

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