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photo of excavators working on new foundationConstruction of the salmon acclimation facility will be finished by the end of October.

New Old Fish Facility
Grant County PUD spending $3.1 million

photoA sign at the construction site shows those involved with the project.

A 13,600-square-foot metal building that will house juvenile summer Chinook is under construction between Carlton and Twisp on the west side of the Methow River.

As a condition of its license renewal to operate the Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams on the Columbia River, the Grant County Public Utility District will spend $3.1 million on the Carlton Summer Chinook Acclimation Facility, which is to be finished by the end of October. Then it will be turned over to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will operate it at the PUD’s expense.

This November, 100,000 smolts will be trucked to the facility from the Eastbank Hatchery in East Wenatchee. Immersed in Methow River water, they will over-winter in eight circular tanks 30 feet in diameter and six feet high, Ian Hunter, construction manager at the site, told Grist. Ultimately the facility is expected to hold 200,000 smolts. The facility is built with an anticipated 20-year life, said Hunter.

The acclimation facility requires 6.3 cubic feet per second of river water, said Thomas Stredwick, Grant PUD spokesman. Groundwater from a well also may occasionally be needed to keep the surface water intake from freezing, or to supplement or replace river water at times of very low water flows or pipe intake failure, he added.

photoThis 192-foot by 90-foot salmon rearing pond was built by Chelan County PUD in 1990 and is no longer used. But its pipes deliver water to the Grant County PUD's new acclimation facility.

Escape pipes will be opened in February to allow fish that are ready to move downriver to start traveling to sea. The salmon themselves will sense by the properties of the water in the tank when it’s time to flee downstream, said Hunter. Laggards that linger in the tanks as late as April will be moved along into the river with human help, he added.

The facility sits on land owned by the Chelan County PUD and leased by the Grant County PUD, according to Stredwick. This arrangement “saved time and money,” he said, because the water is pumped from the river through intakes and pipes already constructed by the Chelan PUD for a summer Chinook rearing pond it had to build as a condition imposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for renewing its license to operate Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams on the Columbia.

The Chelan PUD no longer uses the adjoining 192-foot by 90-foot rearing pond built in 1990, said Chelan public information officer Kimberlee Craig. “We no longer have the obligation to raise summer Chinook at this location,” she said. However, the rearing pond may be used in the future, she said.

“We are required to implement the Methow summer Chinook program through the life of our license, which remains in effect until 2052,” said Stredwick of the Grant County PUD. The utility’s “long-term” lease agreement with Chelan PUD is expected to remain in effect until then, he said.


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