Rocky Reach Dam

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Rocky Reach Dam
LocationChelan / Douglas counties, Washington
Coordinates47°32′00″N 120°17′44″W / 47.53333°N 120.29556°W / 47.53333; -120.29556Coordinates: 47°32′00″N 120°17′44″W / 47.53333°N 120.29556°W / 47.53333; -120.29556
Construction began1956 (Phase One)
1969 (Phase Two)
Construction cost$273.1 million
Operator(s)Chelan County Public Utility District
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsColumbia River
CreatesLake Entiat
Total capacity382,000 acre⋅ft (0.471 km3)
Power Station
Turbines11 [1]
Installed capacity1299.6 MW [1]
Army Corps of Engineers illustration of juvenile fish bypass
Salmon ladder below dam

Rocky Reach Dam is a hydroelectric dam in the U.S. state of Washington owned and operated by Chelan County Public Utility District. It has 11 generators rated in total 1300 MW. The project is on the Columbia River in north central Washington state about seven miles (11 km) upstream from the city of Wenatchee. The dam is 473 miles (761 km) above the mouth of the Columbia. The reservoir impounded by the dam is Lake Entiat. The project provides energy for more than 7 million people throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Rocky Reach is nationally recognized for efforts to protect the environment.[2] A first-of-its-kind juvenile fish bypass system was completed in 2003 to help young salmon and steelhead on their way to the ocean.[3] A major powerhouse upgrade started in 1995 includes new turbines that are more fish friendly.[4] Improvements to turbines and generators are also designed to improve efficiency and reliability.[2]


The project is located on the Columbia River on Highway 97A, seven miles (11 km) north of Wenatchee. The visitor center shows films describing the Columbia River. The "Look a Salmon in the Eye" exhibit from (May–September) is a fish viewing room. The Powerhouse includes exhibits on the fourth floor. The Rocky Reach dam is near the Lincoln Rock State Park a short distance upriver. The Rocky Reach Dam was featured on an episode of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs, hosted by Mike Rowe.


In 1934 the United States Army Corps of Engineers first reported on the hydroelectric potential of this site. By the 1950s, studies were carried out by the Chelan County P.U.D. for detail design of the project. The present site is about one mile (1.6 km) downstream of the site investigated by the Corps of Engineers, due to better conditions for foundations. A preliminary permit was issued in 1954. In 1956 construction of the powerhouse and the first seven generating units began. Four more generators were installed starting in 1969, increasing nameplate capacity to 1287 megawatts. The original project cost was US $273.1 million, financed by bonds sold by the PUD. Project costs included relocation of highways and railroad, land acquisition, and relocation of the town of Entiat. Repayment of bonds was through revenues from long-term sales contracts between Chelan County Public Utility District and local industrial and distribution customers. The facility has been re-licensed until 2052.[2]

The powerhouse now has seven Westinghouse generators and four Allis-Chalmers generators. The turbines are adjustable-blade Kaplan type to allow for efficient production of energy at varying water levels. Water flows through each of the first seven turbines at a rate of 116 thousand gallons per second and 145 thousand gallons per second through each of the remaining four turbines.

See also[edit]

Columbia River Basin


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c "Rocky Reach Hydro Project". Chelan County Public utility district. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  3. ^ "Pumps Assist Migrating Salmon on the Columbia River". Fluent NEWS. Fluent. Winter 2001. Archived from the original on 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  4. ^ McKee, C, and G. Rossi, "Rocky Reach Kaplan Turbines: Development of Fish-Friendly Runners," Hydropower into the Next Century, Barcelona, Spain, 1995, as cited in

External links[edit]