Clallam County eyes four locations for reservoir

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County will know more about the four potential locations for the Dungeness River off-channel reservoir when it gets a draft seismic reconnaissance report back from a consultant for review in late February or early March.

Once commissioners review that report, it will be submitted to the state Department of Ecology’s Dam Safety Office, and county engineers will meet with the dam safety office and incorporate any of their comments sometime in April, said Steve Gray, Clallam County’s transportation manager.

The dam safety office will be the permitting agency for the reservoir, he said. The office regulates and inspects nearly 1,100 dams in Washington, including reviewing design and construction, to protect people and property located downstream, according to the office’s website.

The Dungeness River off-channel reservoir project is located south of Sequim on about 396 acres currently owned by the state Department of Natural Resources. The project’s key objective is to help restore river flows in late summer by storing water from the Dungeness River during winter and spring when flows are plentiful.

The stored water will be used during the late summer in place of water withdrawn directly from the river by irrigation districts, when flows are at their lowest.

Key expected outcomes include more streamflow in late summer for fish and habitat benefits and to provide for a stable, drought-resistant, and climate-resilient water supply for local agriculture.

The Highland Irrigation District still would be the lead on operating the reservoir inlet and outlet structure engaged to control the flow of water to and from the reservoir since they need the water downstream, Gray said.

The county would be the responsible party for anything in and around the reservoir as well as for reporting and inspections, he said.

The Highland Irrigation District gets grant money to help upgrade the facilities upstream of the reservoir, Gray said.

The district also would maintain the downstream irrigation pipelines, and the county is looking for funding for that, he said.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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