General information

Current status   Active license, Non-operating 
Type of facility Conventional Hydro
Mode of hydropower generation Run-of-river
Type of permit Not Required
Year built 1906
Year retired 1959

Ownership and operation

Owner Okanogan Public Utility District
Owner type Public Utility

Enloe Dam_June 2007

Enloe Dam was originally constructed as a wooden crib dam in 1906 and reconstructed as a concrete structure costing $125,000 in the early 1920s. Enloe Dam operated from about 1920 to 1959. When cheaper power became available in 1959, PUD staff at the time decided the costs were no longer economical and ceased its operations. There have been a series of studies and licensing proposals since then for electrifying Enloe again (FERC P-2062, P-10536, and P-12569) as well as a proposed project upstream on Shanker’s Bend (FERC P-12804), but poor project economics have made these attempts unfeasible. In 2018 the PUD determined that total cost of energizing the 100-year-old facility would be $87.4 million, nearly three times the PUD’s original estimate and significantly more expensive than other power resources available to the PUD.

Removal of the dam and restoration of the river has long been discussed and is supported by members of the Hydropower Reform Coalition. The Reclamations Authorizations Act of 1976 directed the Secretary to undertake “measures necessary to provide fish passage and propagation in the Similkameen River” as part of development of the Oroville-Tonasket unit extension, Okanogan-Similkameen division, Chief Joseph Project. A 1977 Bureau of Reclamation study found that removal of Enloe Dam would be the preferred method for accomplishing the requirements of the Act.

Removal of the dam has the potential to benefit salmon and steelhead. Currently there is 189.9 km of accessible habitat for steelhead within the Okanogan River Basin (including British Columbia).  By removing Enloe Dam, based upon habitat availability from the assessment conducted by Beak (1983), there would be an additional 548 km accessible for steelhead, an increase by 288%. During 2019, based upon PIT tag detections, 473 adult steelhead were estimated to return to the Okanogan River Basin of which 167 were natural-origin. During 2020, based upon PIT tag detections, 421 adult steelhead were estimated to return to the Okanogan River Basin of which 271 were natural-origin. Furthermore, Chinook salmon were recorded at the base of Enloe Dam (upriver of the falls), on August 2, 2020.  Discharge during the time of filming was ~ 1,100 cfs.

In July 2022 the PUD passed a resolution supporting a process to evaluate potential dam removal. This marks a significant step in the five decades of active discussion over the ultimate fate of this dam.

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