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Seaquist calls for Executive to clarify responsibilities and assure safe, rapid completion of Electron Dam project

A race against the clock. Sitting high up on the shoulder of Mt. Rainier, the historic Electron dam channels water from the Puyallup River to one of Washington’s original electrical power generation plants. Still in full service powering 20,000 homes, the own

Too many regulators? After weeks of inaction, last week Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier personally took charge of the project to modify the historic Electron Dam. In an 11 September letter requiring Electron Hydro, the project’s owner, to “take advantage of summer low flow conditions,” Executive Dammeier imposed a list of fourteen steps to be performed “immediately.”  With major rains in our near-term forecast, the “low flow” status of the river may be nearing its end now, well ahead of seasonal forecasts of high river flows understood to typically begin early in November.

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Here’s the problem: The detailed, fourteen step instructions from the County in Mr. Dammeier’s letter and other guidance from county officials and two state agencies do not add up to a coherent engineering approach to the hydrodynamic realities at the construction site. In the face of these multiple, conflicting directives, the dam operator, as I understand it, stopped all work pending clear, sound instructions. But the river doesn’t stop. A temporary, bypass spillway is in use. Very few days remain before major work must resume to safely button up the site for the winter — or risk a potentially massive washout with profound downstream impact.

“At one point in my Navy career I worked for General Colin Powell who famously said of the decision to invade Iraq and “break” the regime, “If you break it, you own it”, stated Seaquist. “By asserting plenary authority to order detailed procedures at the work site, Mr. Dammeier and the County now appear to “own” the Electron Dam modification project.”

Immediate decision needed: that resolves multiple agency guidelines and meets the Puyallup Tribe’s concerns with a sound engineering plan to protect the site for the winter.

Seaquist reiterates his calls for an investigation: of the original issue involving the  unpermitted use of astro-turf at the dam site and its subsequent release of rubber contaminants into the Puyallup River.  “We need to understand how this could have happened under county oversight, how we can prevent it from happening in the future, and what steps can be taken to mitigate its impact on our endangered salmon runs.”


The above is a press release from a political campaign.  The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its contents. 

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