The state Department of Ecology is still looking for public thoughts on rebuilding Eightmile Dam in the Alpine Lake Wilderness Area west of Leavenworth.  

The Icicle and Peshastin Irrigation Districts have worked with Ecology to identify the environmental impacts of four options for the dam. 

Chelan County Commissioner Shon Smith says the dam has had structural problems for years. 

"There was a pretty big flood event that happened up there in 2017 and 18 that wiped out a chunk of the dam," said Smith. "So, they've had band aids on it for a lot of years." 

Smith made the comment Monday morning at a meeting of county commissioners after he said he attended a public hearing on the dam last week which drew a sizable crowd. 

"Getting the approval to get the dam rebuilt in such a way that will handle future water events up there at that lake, which of course is the headwaters for Icicle ditch, which all of our farmers and orchardists and a lot of residents rely on now for irrigation," Smith said. 

Ecology is holding a webinar Tuesday at 4pm to get public input on a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for four options for the dam. 

The Option are: 

  • Alternative 1: Narrow spillway with gates 
  • Alternative 2: Wide spillway without gates 
  • Alternative 3: Narrow spillway without gates 
  • No Action Alternative: Operating the current dam with no changes 

According to Ecology, the Draft EIS examines the probable, significant, and adverse impacts resulting from the rebuild and restoration of the dam. It also analyzes how impacts can be reduced or eliminated through mitigation.  

Ecology’s Office of Columbia River (OCR) expedited the completion of an EIS for Eightmile Dam and submitted the draft for public comment last month. 

Eightmile Dam is designed as a small dam, low-level outlet pipeline, and slide gate at the outlet of Eightmile Lake to allow for controlled releases of stored water to supplement flows in Icicle Creek and provide irrigation during low flow periods, typically during late summer. 

Icicle Creek supports the domestic water supply for the city of Leavenworth, hatchery fish raised at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, stream flows and natural aquatic habitat for wild fish, and recreation. 

The 90-year-old Eightmile Lake Dam was flooded and damaged by impacts of the Jack Creek Fire in 2017. Emergency repairs made in the summer of 2018 stabilized the dam, but did not meet current dam safety standards.

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