Serving Franklin County, WA

McMorris Rodgers, others tour Ice Harbor

BURBANK - Several Republican members of the congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee spent Monday in Eastern Washington, specifically to learn about the importance of dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers.

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was joined by as Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Chairman Republican Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon, and Rep. Mike Collins, R-Georgia, for a tour of Ice Harbor Dam, the lower-most Snake River Dam

The congressional delegation and others met to see the inner workings of the dam as well as the innovative technology and methods being used to secure power and wildlife safety.

Within the dam, guides explained the importance of the Snake River dams, as well as the impact of the Ice Harbor on surrounding communities.

They explained the old methods of harnessing hydropower, as well as facilitating salmon runs.

"At full capacity, ( Ice Harbor Dam alone) could power more than 420,000," Bentz said, speaking on the impact of the dam.

Recently the dam has been installing new turbine blades that have a 98.5% survival rate for the fish that run through it.

While on the tour the Congressmen were able to see the dam in action as well as view the difference in the traditional and surface level (new) spill ways.

The tour also explained the lock system used for barges and other watercraft that pass through the lock portion of the dam system.

After the tour, a press field hearing took place outside the dam entrance, where the representatives addressed questions about the dam and its effect on the environment.

The predominant theme of the answers from all of the representatives present pointed toward the improvement of the dam systems as well as the quantified results of the dam's operations.

"The reality is that dams and salmon can and do co-exist," McMorris Rogers said.

Following the visit to Ice Harbor, Republican members of the committee convened a hearing in Richland to talk about the importance of the dams.

McGregor Co. representatives were among those addressing the committee on how the dams provide affordable electricity, navigation, recreation, flood control and more for Eastern Washington.


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