Columbia River Basin

Condit Dam Removal –
White Salmon River Restoration

Condit Dam Removal by Andy Maser, 2012 (2:03)

Comment by NWNL: The Condit Dam and Hydroelectric Project were constructed between 1911 and 1913 by Northwestern Electric Co. (later Pacific Power & Light Co. and then PacifiCorp) in south central Washington State. Located 3.3 miles upstream from the confluence of the White Salmon and Columbia Rivers, the project was designed to produce hydroelectricity to supply the Crown Willamette Paper Co. in Camas, Washington, and the growing municipal market.

In December 1991 PacifiCorp applied to the Federal Energy Renewal Commission for renewal of their license for continued operation. In response to comments and recommendations received by the Commission, the Commission staff issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement in October 1996 recommending fish passage facilities and other measures. PacifiCorp determined that operation of the project would be uneconomic under those conditions, and chose to remove the dam rather than seek fish passage required under a new federal dam license.

On October 26, 2011, the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River was intentionally breached as part of the dam’s decommissioning and removal by PacifiCorp. Barely a year later, all the concrete was gone and the river now flows freely. The salmon have returned, and rafters and kayakers are regularly using the river. This video shows a brief time-lapse view of the breach and resulting river flow.

More information about removal of the Condit Dam and restoration of the White Salmon River can be found at PacifiCorp: Condit and the Department of Ecology, State of Washington. Also see Andy Maser’s blog White Salmon Restored: A Timelapse Project, documenting the removal of Condit Dam.

No Water No Life documented the dam in June 2007, knowing it was slated for removal. NWNL’s May 2014 Snake River Expedition returns to the old dam site to compare ecosystems before and after removal of the Condit Dam. The expedition will then continue on to investigate the future of the lower four dams on the Snake River, largest tributary of the Columbia River Basin.