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  • Investigator #9812

Investigative Report: The Baker and Shannon Dam Seepage Project – A Critical Intervention for Skagit County's Aging Infrastructure

Skagit County, WA – A pivotal project is unfolding in Skagit County, Washington, where Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has initiated a significant safety and modernization project at the Lower Baker Dam. Completed in 1925, this historic dam has served as a cornerstone of the region's hydroelectric power generation. Yet, nearly a century later, it faces challenges that call for urgent attention.

The Issue at Hand: The primary focus of the project is to address seepage issues that have been identified in the Lower Baker Dam. Water leaks from below and around the dam have raised concerns about its structural integrity and efficiency. Such seepage can compromise the dam's stability and, if left unaddressed, could lead to more severe complications, potentially endangering the surrounding environment and communities.

The Project's Scope: After nearly a decade spent in the stages of permitting and design, PSE is now embarking on this ambitious endeavor. The project aims to reduce water seepage through the foundation and abutments of the dam. This intervention is not just a temporary fix but a strategic overhaul to ensure the dam's reliability and structural soundness for many years to come.

Collaborative Efforts: Shannon & Wilson, a notable geotechnical firm, has been a key player in supporting PSE's efforts. Their involvement spans across various aspects, including preparation for relicensing through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), addressing dam safety and maintenance concerns, and participating in Potential Failure Mode Analyses (PFMAs) for the project.

Technological Advancements: One of the innovative approaches being employed in this project is the use of a 3D numerical groundwater flow model. This cutting-edge technology aids in designing and implementing strategies for leakage mitigation, addressing potential failure modes in a more effective and precise manner.

The Dam's Significance: The Lower Baker Dam, towering at 285 feet and boasting a capacity of 111 megawatts, is a critical piece of infrastructure. It is responsible for creating Lake Shannon and plays a vital role in the region's power supply. Its upgrade and maintenance are not just about preserving a piece of history but ensuring a sustainable and safe future for Skagit County's energy needs.

Conclusion: The Baker and Shannon Dam seepage project stands as a testament to the ongoing efforts in maintaining and modernizing vital infrastructure. As the project progresses, it will be crucial to monitor its impact and effectiveness in safeguarding one of the county's most important assets against the tests of time and nature.


KB Tenacious supplied an investigator to research this and write this report to inform the general public of an event that is not well advertised. Photos were taken of the project to supplement the investigator's report but are not included in the final report to prevent issues as they may include what are considered private details of the project. Please reach out to us for any questions or concerns.


 

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