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Release Planned for Upper Sultan (WA)

Posted: 12/02/2005
by Thomas O'Keefe

The Snohomish PUD is planning a water release from Culmback Dam into the Upper Sultan River beginning Monday, December 12th and running for 2-4 days [as of 10/12 we know that releases will only occur on Monday and Tuesday due to low levels in the reservoir]. The release will be approximately 650 cfs. Although we do not have quantitative information on optimal flow ranges for this reach we believe this release will be somewhere between minimum and optimum flow level for this section. The PUD is running some equipment tests and it is unknown exactly how many days these tests will require (although unlikely, in the event of an equipment malfunction the tests could be terminated at any time). The PUD may be conducting some informal surveys of whitewater boaters to assist in the relicensing process; however this water release is not a formal flow study.

All interested boaters are welcome to paddle the river during this water release. AW seeks better documentation of the whitewater in this section to assist with future studies so please take videos and pictures. All gates are open to access the river from Sultan Basin Road to USFS 6122. A more detailed description is available at AW's Upper Sultan River page. Please do not access the river down the face of the dam itself. This is posted off limits and is gated.

Due to the length of this run and the short winter days all boaters are advised to be on the water by 10 A.M. at the latest if you plan to take out at Trout Farm Road (keep in mind that it takes approximately 1 hour to drive from the take-out to the put-in and from there you have to hike into the gorge). This is not an official flow study and no support will be provided for whitewater boaters. Paddlers will need to coordinate their own logistics. Boating the gorge is entirely at your own risk. Be sure to bring appropriate safety gear for a winter run. In December 2004 a large landslide occurred directly downstream of Marsh Creek Falls. It is unknown if this landslide is stable enough to safely portage across. All boaters are urged to use caution in this area.

If you are planning on boating the river please contact Andy Bridge via email at <> so we can get a count of the number of individuals who may be interested. This will help us with any follow up that may be required.

Please also note that Snohomish PUD has recently posted (on December 1st) their Pre Application Document and Notice of Intent to relicense the Jackson Hydroelectric project.

Associated Projects

Sultan River (WA)
AW is working to improve flows and public access for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and paddlers as part of hydropower relicensing on this river.