Grand Coulee Dam
Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. It was built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. The proposal to build the dam was the focus of a bitter debate during the 1920s. One group wanted to irrigate the ancient Grand Coulee with a gravity canal while the other pursued a high dam and pumping scheme.
About Grand Coulee Dam in brief
Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. It was built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. The proposal to build the dam was the focus of a bitter debate during the 1920s between two groups. One group wanted to irrigate the ancient Grand Coulee with a gravity canal while the other pursued a high dam and pumping scheme. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt endorsed the high dam design which, at 550 ft high, would provide enough electricity to pump water into the Columbia basin for irrigation. The dam now supplies four power stations with an installed capacity of 6,809 MW. As the centerpiece of the Columbia Basin Project, the dam’s reservoir supplies water for the irrigation of 671,000 acres. The reservoir is called Franklin Delanos Roosevelt Lake, named after the United States President who presided over the dam’s authorization and completion. Creation of the reservoir forced the relocation of over 3,000 people, including Native Americans whose ancestral lands were partially flooded. While the dam does not contain fish passage, neither does the next downstream dam, Chief Joseph Dam. This means no salmon reach the Grand Cou Lee Dam. The third large dam downstream, Wells Dam, has an intricate system of fish ladders to accommodate yearly salmon spawning and migration. The first waters overtopped the spillway on June 1 of that year. Power from the dam fueled the growing industries of the Northwest United States during World War II.
Between 1967 and 1974, the third powerplant was constructed. The decision to construct the additional facility was influenced by growing energy demand, regulated river flows stipulated in theColumbia River Treaty with Canada, and competition with the Soviet Union. Many locals associated with the pumpers favored a dam with pumps to elevate water from the river from which canals and pipes could irrigate farmland. The idea gained popularity with the public in Central Washington in 1918. Many local businessmen associated with pumpers, such as James O’Sullivan and Rufus Woods, favored diverting water from Oregon’s Pendille River to Central Washington via agravity canal. The earliest known proposal to divert water from Columbia River dates to 1892, when the Coulee City News and The Spokesman Review reported on a scheme by a man named Laughlin McLean to construct a 1,000 ft dam across the Columbia river. A dam that size would have its reservoir encroach into Canada, which would violate treaties. In 1917, William M. Clapp, a lawyer from Ephrata, Washington, proposed the Columbia be dammed immediately below the Grand coulee. He suggested a concrete dam could flood the plateau, just as nature blocked it with ice centuries ago. In 1918, Clapp was joined by James O’Sullivan, another lawyer, and the publisher of The Wenatchee World newspaper. Together, they became known as the ‘Dam College’. They began promoting the dam in his newspaper.