Old Eklutna dam is almost down
A project to remove an old dam on the Eklutna River is close to wrapping up, according to Brad Meiklejohn with The Conservation Fund, the non-profit that is funding the $7.5 million project. The dam has been in place since 1929 when it helped provide the first hydro-electric power to Anchorage. But when the generator plant closed in the 1950s, the dam remained. Meiklejohn said it's been a problem ever since.
"It's just sitting here blocking fish and clogging the river," said Meiklejohn.
He added, "People have talked about taking this dam out for many decades. I first heard about it back in the '90s, so it's time."
Meiklejohn and others would like to see salmon runs restored in the river, especially Sockeyes which once swam all the way up to Eklutna Lake to spawn.
"The long-term plan here is to restore this whole river system so that fish can swim from salt water to Eklutna Lake," said Meiklejohn. "The first step is taking this dam out."
That phase should be finished by the end of October but Meiklejohn said it could take several years before the river is restored. Tons of mud and sediment have accumulated behind the dam which will need to settle downstream. Meiklejohn said the final phase will require the utility companies that currently use water from Eklutna Lake to produce power to allow some of the lake water be released back into the river. He said negotiations with the Utility companies are on-going.
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