The Wells Hydroelectric Project is the chief generating resource for the Douglas County PUD, the Project's owner and operator. Wells produced its first commercial generation on August 22, 1967. Douglas PUD operates the Wells Project under a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission which expires in the year 2012. To learn more about the relicensing process check out our relicensing website http://relicensing.douglaspud.org/ .
The Wells project has ten generating units rated at a combined 840 megawatts. Eleven gated spillway openings can pass a flood of over 8,800,000 gallons of water per second. In 1990, Douglas PUD completed installation of modern high efficiency replacement turbine runners on all ten units.The hydrocombine structure is 1,165 feet in length and the dam is 4,460 feet long overall.
Entities receiving power from Wells Dam along with Douglas PUD include Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, Puget Sound Energy, Portland General Electric Company, PacifiCorp, Avista Corporation and the Okanogan County Public Utility District.
The Wells Project was built with fish ladders like you see here on both ends of the Dam. Adult salmon and steelhead migrating upstream locate the ladders as they travel along the shoreline. One of the ladders is equipped with a trapping mechanism to aid biologists in their study and enhanced propogation of the fish.
During the 1980s, Douglas County PUD developed a system to guide young salmon and steelhead away from moving turbines and safely through Wells Dam. The unique hydrocombine design of the Wells Dam allowed for a juvenile bypass system utilizing the existing spillway at the project. No expensive screens were required. The migration success rate for these juvenile salmon and steelhead exceeds the level sought by fisheries agencies and is the highest on the Columbia River. Of the remaining small number of fish that pass through the turbines, a high percentage travel safely through large turbine water passages.
The fish hatchery facilities at Wells Dam were built and are currently funded by Douglas County PUD. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the operating agency. Approximately 3 million juvenile salmon and steelhead are released annually into the Columbia River and tributaries above Wells Dam. Total operating costs exceed $700,000 annually. The Wells Hatchery is the only hatchery in the Columbia Basin dedicated to the enhancement of the important summer chinook salmon stocks. Adult summer chinook are collected for broodstock in July, August and September. They may be seen in the holding ponds at the Wells Hatchery during those months. Juvenile summer chinook are released from the hatchery in April and May.
The Wells steelhead program is one of the outstanding hatchery programs in the Columbia Basin. Because of the quality of this program, the Wells Hatchery fish are included in the protection scheme for steelhead which were listed as endangered in August, 1997. Annual releases of 400,000 to 500,000 juvenile steelhead into the tributaries above Wells Dam are expected to help rebuild healthy populations of this popular sport fish. The sport fishery on steelhead is currently suspended.
See also the Methow Hatchery.
Wells Dam is located in North Central Washington state between Seattle and Spokane at river mile 515.8 on the Columbia River. It can be reached by driving north from Wenatchee along Highway 97 up the Columbia River to Chelan then continuing north another 15 minutes. The Methow River joins the Columbia just north of the dam site at the Town of Pateros.
Boat launching, recreational facilities and a municipal park can all be found in Pateros, Brewster and Bridgeport, towns located upstream from the Wells Project. The improvements at these parks were made possible with Wells Project funding.
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