Grand Coulee DamTuesday, January 25, 2011 By Emiliano Martinez
Grand Coulee is the largest dam in the Columbia Basin and one of the largest in the world. Everything about the dam is large: it is 550 feet (167.6 meters) tall, measured from its foundation in solid granite, or approximately 350 feet (106.7 meters) from the downstream river surface to the top of the dam. It is 5,223 feet (1,592 meters) long, or 57 feet short of a mile. Grand Coulee is 450-500 feet thick at its base at 30 feet thick at the top, and it contains 11,975,521 cubic yards (9,155,944 cubic meters) of concrete, three times as much as Hoover Dam. The dam has four power plants. The two original power plants, the first of which began producing power in 1941, are called the Left Power Plant and the Right Power Plant. The two power plants, each of which houses nine large generators, are split by the spillway, which is 1,300 feet wide and covers an area of 13.26 acres. “The dam is very big, it’s been a fun experience going to Grand Coulee with my family and visiting the dam. I learned many things from the tour we too,” said Zacarias Martinez. “The Grand Coulee Dam is a interesting place to go especially during 4 th of July because of the cool laser show that they have. Also because it’s a fun place to spend time with friends and family and catch up on things,” stated Devon Leavitt. Grand Coulee is located at river mile 596.6 in central Washington about 90 miles northwest of Spokane near the place where an ice flow dammed the river during the last Ice Age. The ice forced the river to rise from its historic channel and flow to the south, where it carved a giant canyon — the Grand Coulee. Eventually the ice retreated, and the river returned to its old channel. Hydropower accounts for 79.7 percent of Grand Coulee’s authorized purposes, the others being irrigation and flood control . While hydropower is the first purpose of the dam today, the public desire for irrigation was the reason for its construction. One of the first published reports of a proposal to irrigate the Columbia Plateau with water from the Columbia River was in 1892. George Bush took dam removal off the table when he was president, now Obama is putting Snake River dam removal back in play. What keeps dam breaching alive, science. There is an overwhelming amount of fisher biologists who argue that recovery of the four salmon and steelhead stocks that live in Idaho depends on removing the four dams or one dam on the Columbia. Since taking out one Columbia dam would cost too much money, people are pushing into breaching the four Snake dams. By doing this, the salmon will have a chance to go through the present dams and they will not be in danger like they are now. Breaching dams will be easier and much more affordable than removing andy dam. People might not notice how important dams are and take advantage of what they produce. Over all dams are very important to everyone. Even though they can do damage to our salmon, they provide a large amount of electricity for our communities.