Dam relicensing proposal calls for removal of 2nd dam

Seattle City Light has reached a proposed settlement over the relicensing of the Boundary Dam on the Pend Oreille River in northeast Washington.

The proposed settlement was submitted earlier this week to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Seattle City Light agreed to protect and restore fish habitat and recreational opportunities in return for public support of a new dam license.

The utility negotiated for two years with the Kalispel Tribe, the U.S. Forest Service, environmental groups, the Pend Oreille Public Utility District and others. Those groups will support continued power generation at the Boundary Dam.

In return, Seattle City Light will remove the defunct Mill Pond Dam on Sullivan Creek, a tributary of the Pend Oreille River. The dam removal will open up more than 16 miles of fish spawning and rearing habitat. Upstream fish passage also will be provided at Boundary Dam to connect fish populations above and below the dam. The work should improve native fish populations throughout the Pend Oreille basin, utility officials said.

The dam controlling the Sullivan Lake reservoir will remain. New reservoir operations should improve fishing in the lake, Sullivan Creek and Outlet Creek and provide better fall paddling in Sullivan Creek, utility officials said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will conduct its own review of the proposed settlement. A new dam license is expected in 2011.

Seattle City Light provides power to nearly 1 million Puget Sound residents. The Boundary Dam produces more than half of the electricity generated by the utility.

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