Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Inslee Says Cracked Wanapum Dam A Unique Problem, Not Systemic In River System

Office of the Governor

Governor Jay Inslee was able to get up close to drilling machines on the damaged Wanapum Dam in central Washington Wednesday. He visited Wanapum after it came out this week that the dam’s massive crack was caused by fundamental design errors and bad concrete pours in 1960.

At a picnic park in the shadow of Wanapum Dam, Inslee said he didn’t think there was reason for concern about other dams in the region given the fundamental problems with Wanapum’s design and construction.

“I would say from what I know right now, this has enough uniqueness of how this error was made, that I’m unaware of reasons to believe that there would be a systemic problem throughout our dam system," said the governor. "That would be surprising to me. Nonetheless, I’m going to talk to some engineers and make sure that’s the case.”

Grant County officials don’t expect the $61 million fix to be completed until near the end of the year. Meanwhile, the drawdown of water behind the cracked dam has closed recreation on the river. That’s a problem for local tourism.

Inslee said there are no plans for state aid right now, but he added, "that’s one of the reasons I’ve come to find out what the challenges are and this is going to help us.”

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.