65-foot crack found in Wanapum Dam

VANTAGE, Wash . -- It took a team of divers to find out what is going on with the Wanapu Dam, after a maintenance worker found something odd during a routine check.

There's no more water for boating right now. The Wanapum Dam built almost 50 years ago has a crack in it. Officials don't know how it happened, and neighbors are worried.

"The aging of these structures and we should be on top of it, so if there's something we could have done to prevent it, it's pretty surprising it hasn't been done," said Kyle Rosskelly.

The dam might look like it's in perfect working condition, but what you can't see underneath the water is that there is a 65-foot-long crack. Officials have started to lower the water level so they can check it out.

"That's what they're really inspecting at this time, so right now, we don't have any information either way. What we're doing is stabilizing that portion of the dam," said Thomas Stredwick of the Grant County Public Utility District.

On Monday, a maintenance worker was walking across the spillway when he noticed a misalignment in one of the spillway sections. Crews have started dropping the water level to ease pressure and stabilize it. Grant County P.U.D. customers could go without electricity because of it.

"It obviously places limitations on the amount of energy we're able to generate," said Stredwick.

Officials tell us they can buy energy on the grid if they have to. They say, if the dam breaks, we should be fine. Water released wouldn't exceed normal river flows for this time of year.

But Kyle is still concerned about the worst-case scenario.

"It's pretty crazy. It's one of the biggest dams in the state, and it's going to be a catastrophe if something happens," he said.

Official say repairs may take up to a month to fix.