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Drawdown of Columbia River reservoir creates problems, opportunities

By: Becky Kramer
The Spokesman-Review

VANTAGE, Wash. – Mud, lots of mud, with a river flowing through it.

Anja Reynolds gaped at an unfamiliar Columbia last week as her husband, Dave, and their three kids stretched their legs at a park near the river’s edge. The Shelton, Wash., family had stopped for a break on the six-hour drive to Spokane.

The river no longer filled the gorge at Vantage from basalt cliff to basalt cliff. Vast mudflats stretched out to the water. A “no trespassing” sign warned the family to stay off the unstable shoreline.

“I’ve seen the river a lot,” Anja Reynolds said. “This is different.”

The reservoir behind Wanapum Dam has been drawn down since late February, to relieve pressure on a crack that developed in one of the concrete supports for the dam’s spillway gates. As they pass over the Columbia on Interstate 90, people are getting a glimpse of the river not seen since the dam’s reservoir filled in 1964. Read more

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