By Marcy Stamper
The Okanogan County Public Utility district (PUD) is proceeding with safety work and inspections for Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River near Oroville.
With Okanogan County’s approval last month of a shoreline exemption to allow a visual inspection of the dam, the PUD’s contractor will start construction for the inspection later this month, PUD Director of Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Jeri Timm said.
In preparation for the inspection, contractor Max J. Kuney Co. of Spokane will install gates that can be set so water in the Similkameen River bypasses the dam. Diverting the water will allow inspection of the downstream face of the dam, the toe of the dam, and both abutments, according to the PUD.
The inspection, which will most likely take place in fall 2022, is expected to take two to five days. Once completed, the gates will be closed and water will flow over the dam again. The gates will remain in the river and the district will put them through the full range of motion about once a year to ensure they are functioning and to minimize the build-up of sediment.
At a special meeting last week, the PUD commissioners amended the contract with Kuney and authorized additional funds in the budget by $1.25 million to cover construction for the safety work this year and next, which will cost almost $7 million.
Costs have escalated from the previous estimate, primarily because of increases in the cost of steel and labor, additional foundation work based on information from the geotechnical site investigation, and the addition of trash racks to the intakes, Timm said.
The status of the dam and direction given to staff haven’t changed since the board voted not to re-energize the dam in November 2018, citing prohibitive costs.