Skykomish Dam plan moves ahead

by: Lee Stoll Updated:

Residents near the Skykomish River have lined the shore with signs opposing the project to build a dam.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. —

As many river dams are being torn down, a local power company wants to put one up.

The Snohomish PUD held a public meeting Wednesday to talk about a plan to install a dam along the Skykomish River near Index.

Residents have already lined the shore with signs opposing the project.             

“I'd rather see the signs than see a dam," said Index resident Matt Walsh.

The Snohomish PUD, federal regulators and opponents all toured the proposed site for a hydro-electric dam at the base of Sunset Falls.  The power generated by the dam would serve up to 20,000 homes across Snohomish County and Camano Island.

"We're growing. We have a need for additional power and our commissioners have directed staff to get all of our power by cost-effective conservation," said Snohomish PUD’s Kim Moore.

The design—called a weir—is different than the brick-and-mortar dams many states are tearing down.

The dam is inflated under water to adjust to the river flow.

The only thing above water is a foot-high steel rim.

 “The river elevation for our generation really doesn't require the weir about 40 percent of the time," said Moore.

Opponents say the dam isn’t the only eyesore.  A switch-conntrol room will be built on shore.  Backing up the water to generate power will cut down the flow for waterfalls.

"The falls will be a trickle of what they normally were.  That's not Sunset Falls and that's not the reason people who live in that area want to live in that area," said resident Anthony Huvard.

He’s not opposed to green power, he just wants to know why this is the best option.

"How much of our planet do we want to bastardize, how much do we want to destroy so we can plug in more labor saving devices?" said Huvard

Snohomish PUD plans to hold several meetings.  If the plan is approved, construction will take two and a half years.