Thursday, March 29, 2012
Run of River Hydropower Proposed for the South Fork Skykomish
A proposal by Snohomish County to build a run of river hydropower facility on the South Fork Skykomish is meeting major opposition from members of the community. The plan, which calls for the building of a diversion dam on the South Fork Skykomish above Sunset Falls would divert water more than a mile of river running it through turbines before releasing it below the falls. Sunset falls has historically blocked the migration of salmon into the South Fork, however since the 1950s a trap and haul operation run by WDFW has transported fish above the falls to spawn and since that time large populations of pink and coho salmon as well as smaller populations of steelhead and chinook salmon have colonized the river above the falls. While the affected portion of the South Fork Skykomish is not a major fish bearing reach, dewatering the river could potentially reduce the rearing capacity for stream rearing salmonids such as steelhead and coho. Furthermore, the diversion dam and the dewatered reach of river below it have to potential to impact the downstream movement of outmigrating smolts.
Equally important, unlike British Columbia where there are currently almost 700 proposed projects, run of river hydropower has yet to take hold in Washington State. After three decades of fighting to remove aging and destructive dams the last thing we need is another wave of hydroprojects further impacting our watersheds.
Visit the Save the Skykomish website to find out more and to sign their petition: