Columbia River tourism takes hit from damaged Wanapum Dam



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Posted on May 14, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 14 at 5:48 PM

CRESCENT BAR, Wash. – Businesses downstream on the Columbia River from the damaged Wanapum Dam are feeling the economic ripples.

Warren Lybbert rents jet skis and other water sports equipment.

"No water, No business," said Lybbert, as he looked out over the dried up marina. "I’m done. I can’t make any money here this year."

Christen Davis at the resort’s swimsuit store is feeling it too.

"We would normally have people walking around and shopping, enjoying the weather," she said in the middle of the nearly vacant business area. “As you can see, nobody’s coming."

The Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) which operates the dam, said a fracture at the base of the dam forced them to lower the river level to protect it.

Thirty-seven miles of the river upstream are now at historic low levels and, due to public safety concerns, the entire stretch of river and beaches are off limits to the public.

The PUD blamed the problem on a mathematical error made by engineers designing the dam 50 years ago.

For businesses upstream, that mistake in the 1960s is adding up to a lost tourist season in 2014.