By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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“At this point because of the unpredictability of flows and how low we have to wait for the flows to drop in order to access what's left of the dam, [park officials] are in discussions with Barnard [Construction Co. Inc.] to extend the contract in the event the work isn't completed by Sept. 15,” Olympic National Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said this week.
Maynes said park officials began discussing the possibility of a contract extension in March.
Aaron Jenkins, Elwha River dam-removal project superintendent for Barnard, declined to comment.
“No, I'm not going to comment on that. That's contractual,” said Jenkins when asked whether he thought a contract extension would be needed.
Crews with the contractor, which is based in Bozeman, Mont., began moving equipment back to the Glines Canyon Dam site 8 miles from the mouth of the river last week after the river's flow volume began dropping.
Jenkins said crews expect to begin drilling holes for explosives in the remaining 30 feet of Glines Canyon Dam this weekend or early next week.
“We're looking at seven to 10 days of drilling and two to three days for [blasting],” Jenkins said.
After the edifice comes down, removing the dam rubble from the bottom of the river will take “multiple” weeks, Jenkins said.
“More than one [week], less than eight,” he said.
Jenkins estimated crews need river flows of about 850 cubic feet per second, or cfs, or less to expose enough of the dam remnant for work to progress.
In March, the river was running as high as 10,500 cfs — nearly 10 times its average of 1,100 cfs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
River flows topped 1,000 cfs for most of July, according to USGS monitoring data, and began decreasing to around 500 cfs in the final week of the month.
Maynes said a time frame for extending the contract to remove the remaining 30 feet of Glines Canyon Dam, if an extension is needed, has not been set.
“It's under discussion at this point, but certainly the goal is to have dam removal completed before flows come up again, before fall rains,” Maynes said.
Maynes said a contract extension probably would not push the entire project over the expected $325 million cost because other work on the larger effort came in less costly than expected.
“The dam-removal contract will likely go a bit higher than [the original], but within the whole project budget, we are still within project budget,” Maynes said.
Contract awarded in 2010
Park officials awarded the $26.9 million contract with Barnard in August 2010.
Once towering 210 feet tall, Glines Canyon Dam is being removed as part of the larger $325 million project to restore the Elwha River to its wild state, including its fish runs.
Elwha Dam demolition was finished in March 2012.
Maynes said delays in Glines Canyon Dam demolition caused by work needed to fix the Elwha Water Treatment Plant in October 2013 after thick sediment released from behind the two dams clogged the plant's intakes were also a factor.
“During that time, we certainly lost time for dam removal,” Maynes said.
The plant filters water for later use by Nippon Paper Industries USA, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife fish-rearing channel, the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe's fish hatchery and the Port Angeles Water Treatment Plant, which provides drinking water for city residents.
Problems with the plant began in October 2012.
Both the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, originally built to provide electricity to Port Angeles and other areas of the Olympic Peninsula, were constructed without fish ladders and so blocked salmon migration.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.