COLUMBIA RIVER: State restricts beach, water access near dam

March 16, 2014 

The state has closed five access sites along the Columbia River behind Wanapum Dam, where the water level has been drawn down in response to a cracked spillway. Closed are the Yo Yo, Old Vantage Highway, Sunland Estates, Buckshot and Frenchman Coulee/Climbing Rocks water access sites.

Officials at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the sites and are preventing access to the beach and exposed riverbed in agency wildlife areas to protect public safety, fish habitat and archaeological and cultural resources.

The reservoir behind the dam was lowered by about 26 feet after divers discovered a 65-foot-long fracture Feb. 27. As a result, the water level behind the dam is at its lowest point since the Grant County Public Utility District facility began operating in 1964.

The reservoir level is so low that boaters can’t reach the water with their trailers, and some uncovered areas are like quicksand.

Also closed are the lower ends of roads that lead into the reservoir at the Colockum and L.T. Murray wildlife areas in Kittitas and Chelan counties, and at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant County.

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