The City of Snohomish and the Tulalip Tribes Collaborate on Pilchuck River Dam Removal and Restoration to Achieve Mutual Benefits
In June of 2018, the Tulalip Tribes and the City of Snohomish finalized an Interlocal Agreement for cooperative action in restoration of the Pilchuck River. The City owns a water supply diversion dam located southeast of the City of Granite Falls on the Pilchuck River. This diversion structure was previously operated for City drinking water withdrawals, but as part of the City’s long range plans, is no longer in use. The dam may at times be an impediment to iconic and culturally important fish species that live in the river including Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, Steelhead and many other fish species. Dam removal will restore natural river conditions with mutual benefits to fish, Tulalip, the City, and other stakeholders in the area.
The Pilchuck River is a culturally and environmentally important watershed for salmon and other species. The Tulalip Tribes work to protect and perpetuate the salmon and other resources their people have depended on for thousands of years, and the Pilchuck River is within the Tribes’ usual and accustomed fishing grounds. “Chinook, Coho, Steelhead and other species in the Pilchuck River are vital to our culture, and are iconic to our region,” said Tulalip Chairwoman Marie Zackuse. “This collaboration between Tulalip and the City of Snohomish will result in meaningful restoration that can move the dial towards salmon recovery and provide mutual benefits.”
Through a comprehensive public involvement process regarding its long-term water supply, the City invested in technical experts to determine the best practices for serving its citizens and the community. The City offered to engage the Tribes as a partner in this process, and the Tribes have provided outstanding design, grant application and ecological expertise, as together we work toward completion of this beneficial project to our region. “Our partnership with Tulalip will increase our capacity to complete this project and foster a lasting relationship,” stated Snohomish Mayor John T. Kartak.
The Pilchuck River Diversion Dam was initially constructed in 1912, and the current dam and intake structure was completed in 1932. The City has for several years studied alternative means for delivery of safe, clean and cost effective drinking water to its customers and has carefully considered a balanced approach to meet both the needs of people and fish. “By utilizing other water sources, the City can be more efficient, save money and work collaboratively with Tulalip to restore natural river conditions for threatened salmon,” said City Administrator/Utility General Manager Steve Schuller.
Now that the agreement for cooperative action has been finalized, the first step will be for Tulalip to start planning and stakeholder outreach. “We will be conducting analyses, producing plans and conducting outreach in this initial project phase,” said Tulalip Restoration Ecologist Brett Shattuck. “There are many stakeholders who we want to be included in this project to make sure that everyone is informed and has an opportunity to provide input. We look forward to continued collaboration with the City on this project, and to realizing the substantial mutual benefits that can be achieved for Tulalip, the City, and the larger community.”
For more information, please contact Steve Schuller, City Administrator/Utility General Manager, by phone at (360) 282-3194 or by email.