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            News Release




Subject:   Skagit River Flood Control Protected Property, Saved Salmon
For Immediate Release:   
12/7/2007  12:00:00 AM
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Skagit River Flood Control Protected Property, Saved Salmon

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle City Light Cooperate During Flood Events

SEATTLE - As record rains doused Western Washington this week, the Skagit River Valley avoided many of the flooding problems that plagued other areas in Washington thanks in part to water flow management at Seattle City Lights three Skagit River dams.

Before the storm, Seattle City Light increased its power generation at the Gorge, Ross and Diablo dams, drawing down the water levels in their reservoirs to make room for the rain that was on the way. During the storm, control of the dams was turned over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is standard procedure during a flood under City Lights operating license.

When the storm was over, City Light and the Corps of Engineers avoided sending any water over the dams spillways. That saved water in the reservoirs for future power production and recreational opportunities while keeping downstream flows at manageable levels.

"Seattle City Light did a great job in preparing for what could have been a bad event and was very cooperative," said Amy Reese, a hydraulic engineer with the Corps of Engineers.

The work also saved millions of salmon.

"Floods are always harmful to salmon. High flood waters scour salmon nests, destroying the eggs. The higher the river flow the greater the damage," Seattle City Light Fish Biologist Dave Pflug said. "By carefully managing the releases from the project during the flood to avoid a spill Seattle City Light saved many salmon lives."

With river flows reaching 81,000 cubic feet per second at Mount Vernon on Tuesday, fish biologists estimate that 2.4 million chinook eggs and 18 million pink salmon eggs were destroyed. While those losses are significant, water flow management higher up on the Skagit at City Light dams saved 1 million chinook eggs and 3 million pink salmon eggs that also would have been destroyed by even higher river flows had a spill at the dams occurred.

The Gorge, Diablo and Ross dams on the Skagit River have provided electricity to City Light since 1924 and currently produce about 17 percent of the utilitys energy supply.


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Seattle City Light is a publicly owned utility dedicated to exceeding our customers' expectations in producing and delivering low cost, reliable power in an environmentally responsible and safe way. We are committed to delivering the best customer service experience of any utility in the nation.

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