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Changes to Access at the Powerhouse (WA)

Posted: 03/02/2004
by Thomas O'Keefe

Changes are in store for the Powerhouse run on the Snoqualmie River. The road to the put-in will be closed for two weeks this spring and then at times through the summer for installation of a new turbine. In addition a new access trail will be constructed to an access point downstream of the powerhouse. The details of the trail leading to the upstream side of the powerhouse are still being discussed.

1) From March 22nd through May 1st the access road down to the powerhouse from the parking lot at the east terminus of Fish Hatchery Road will be rebuilt. Formal access to the river will be unavailable during this construction period, although PSE is working to design a trail that will potentially provide access when construction crews are not actively working. In practice this means that boaters should still be able to access the river on the downstream side of the powerhouse although there may be short periods of time, particularly during the day, when crews are working that access will be closed for safety reasons.

2) From July 1st through September 30th a turbine at the powerhouse will be replaced. The area adjacent to the powerhouse will be used as a staging area and access denied.

3) It is the intent of PSE to construct a new access trail/path and put-in to the Snoqualmie River from the upper parking lot. They would like to construct this permanent access, as soon as possible, so as to provide continual access to the River from late Spring throughout the summer season. If completed, this access trail could provide formal access to the river at the downstream side of the powerhouse throughout the construction periods listed noted above.

The FERC license for this project expired in 1993. PSE has not received a new FERC license for the project which is pending an appeal of the project's Water Quality Certificate by the Snoqualmie Tribe. PSE continues working to obtain a new license for this project (FERC project 2493) and if that occurs, they anticipate an order from FERC to plan and implement a low-development trail to accommodate river access for kayakers and fishing downstream of the powerplant. The exact location of this access is undecided but will have obvious consequences for those who use the play feature and training pool upstream of the powerhouse that has been accessible from the falls viewing trail for many years. Volunteers are currently working to determine how informal access to these areas can continue as described in the project FEIS published in 1996.

PSE has agreed to enter a dialogue with the boating community regarding the development of this new access. Boaters hope to retain access to the traditional access point upstream of the powerhouse, but the various issues will be explored with the utility and FERC in greater detail.

To date the following individuals have volunteered to represent the interests of the various clubs. If you have any additional input, suggestions, or would otherwise like to be included in discussions please feel free to contact any of us. These individuals and others have particpated in a site visit and meeting with PSE.

The Mountaineers, Fran Troje
Washington Kayak Club, Andree Hurley, Access Chair
University Kayak Club, Oliver Will, Vice President
PaddleTrails Canoe Club, Mel Vandergriff
American Whitewater, Tom O'Keefe, Regional Coordinator

Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.