Final PaperPlan B PresentationSearch the WebpageFlood Video Links
Home PageRiver Issues
About the AuthorAsk the Angry CitizenDocument DirectoryDwelley TributeFred Slipper SoliloquiesGlossary of Flood WordsHistorical ArticlesLinksPhoto GalleryQuote of the MonthRain Gauge
E-mail the Author





Sauk River Dam Issues Page
3/9/2011 Historical Newspaper Articles on Sauk River Dam Proposals 4-page table of historical newspaper articles on discussion of proposals to build a dam on the Sauk River.
5/18/1928 MFR Re: Potential Dam Locations “Document identifies potential dam sites and gage locations on the Skagit and other rivers.  “The Dalles on the Skagit River.  A site for a low head dam, which would back the water up to the tailwater of Baker River plant.”
2/21/1952 Report on Survey for Flood Control of Skagit River and Tributaries “The existing reservoirs are not effective in preventing major flooding in the Skagit Valley, Diablo Reservoir is ordinarily maintained at a high level by Ross storage and has no flood storage, Shannon Lake is likewise held at a high level if stream flow permits, but an incidental degree of minor flood protection might be available if the reservoir should be drawn down because of deficient run-off before a flood, Ross Reservoir above Diablo has a large amount of storage, primarily for power, but the Federal Power Commission has required a reservation of winter flood control storage space. Studies are under way to determine the amount of such storage, and it is believed that it will not exceed 200,000 acre-feet. Because of its far upstream location Ross Reservoir storage cannot greatly reduce major floods on the lower Skagit River, The effectiveness of Ross storage in reducing peak discharges depends upon location of the storm center and other variable storm characteristics, Estimates based on average conditions indicate that crest reductions varying between 15,000 and 25,000 second-feet may be expected at Sedro Woolley.
7/2/1963 Tulalip Tribe Resolution #168-17 Opposition to Dredging Project Tulalips along with Swinomish and Lummi Indians threatened to sue Corps if they went ahead with dredging project or Sauk Dam.
8/1/1963 Lower Sauk River Dam Analysis & Pertinent Data Analysis of power requirements for potential dam on the Sauk River encompassing 712,000 acre-feet of which 200,000 acre-feet was to be used for flood control storage.

7th District Congressman ltr to Corps re Sauk River Dam

"This proposed project would involve the building of a dam some four and a half miles above the mouth of the Sauk River. Construction of this dam would result in the destruction of a large portion of our King Salmon and Steelhead spawning grounds."

USACOE Avon Bypass Reactivation Report

Unregulated 100yr fld 250,000 to 300,000 cfs (pg 2); The 35-year level of flood protection provided by the Avon Bypass with levee and channel improvements would protect against 79 percent of average annual flood damages under present conditions.  These flood damages are 75 percent agricultural and only 25 percent urban.  Therefore, the project is now required essentially for the protection of agricultural lands, and the 35-year level of protection is well suited to present development.  . . .  The semi-pervious foundation conditions preclude any general raising of levees without extensive broadening of the levee sections, construction of cutoffs to reduce seepage, and relocation of the road systems adjacent to the levee system. (pg 4)  To achieve the same results as the Bypass and levee improvements, the channel would have to be widened from 300 to 600 feet from the downstream limits of Sedro Woolley to the mouth of the river, a distance of over 20 miles.  (pg 6)  ... At Mt. Vernon the 1932 flood of 140,000 c.f.s. has a 12-year frequency; the 1921 flood of 182,000 c.f.s. has a 30-year frequency; and a flood of 245,000 c.f.s, would have a 100-year frequency.  ... 278,000 at SW (Table 2)

Memo to Portland District fm Seattle District re Reactivation Report for Avon Bypass

The lower Sauk River is the only location in the Skagit River basin at which major upstream storage is possible. At such time as other multiple purpose uses for storage require development of the Sauk site, sufficient flood control storage could be included to increase the 30-year protection that would be provided by the bypass and improved levee system to more than 100-year protection.  
9/8/1964   Disposition Form re: Preliminary Sauk River storage determinations a. Storage in the amount of 134,000 acre-feet is required in the Sauk River Reservoir to control a 100-year flood to 180,000 c.f.s. at Mt. Vernon.
b. A 30-year flood, requiring 130,000 acre-feet of storage in Sauk River Reservoir, is the maximum flood that can be controlled to 120,000 c.f.s. at Mt. Vernon.
c. A 10-year flood, requiring 77,000 acre-feet of storage in the Sauk River Reservoir, is the maximum flood that can be controlled to 91,000 c.f.s. at Mt. Vernon.  
7/9/1965 Series of MFRs & Letters Mostly Addressing 8 Possible Dam Sites and Impacts of Wild and Scenic River Act 7/9/65 8 sites were Cascade River, Lower Suiattle River; Upper Suiattle River; Upper Sauk River; Lower Sauk River; Cooper Creek; Thunder Creek; and Faber site (on Skagit about 6 miles upstream from Baker River).  7/1/65  "A decision to commit a portion o the river basin to a Wild (and Scenic) River category appears premature at this time.  6/18/65 "One hundred year flood protection is vitally necessary for continued progress in Skagit county. 6/29/65 The purpose of this meeting was to inform Seattle Light representatives of our proposed upstream storage studies in the Skagit River basin, determine sites at which City Light has made studies, and obtain data on power studies made by the city. 4/7/65  Ltr fm private engineering company to Corps re Cape Horn.
See also: 8/12/1965 DF re Skagit River Upstream Storage Geologic Reconnaissance

DF re Skagit River Upstream Storage Geologic Reconnaissance

"This report covers certain geologic phases of upstream storage -sites as viewed on a 5-day reconnaissance by Messrs. A. S. Cary, F&M Branch and W. R. McKinley, Project Planning Branch, into the Skagit drainage area."  . . . The Skagit Valley far upstream has a depth of fill near 500 feet and if the rock floors of the Sauk and Skagit are concordant, the depth is well below sea level."
See also: 7/9/1965 Series of MFRs & Letters Mostly Addressing 8 Possible Dam Sites and Impacts of Wild and Scenic River Act
5/4/1966 Ltr to Seattle District fm Bureau of Outdoor Recreation re Status of Wild & Scenic Rivers Designations " In this case, we must consider the value of the Skagit River and its tributaries nationally as a unit of a National Wild River System as compared to the benefits a single project which could adversely affect the overall values involved."  ...  " we must consider the benefits of the Skagit as a unit of a National Wild River System as superior to those of the Lower Sauk Project.
6/21/1967 MFR RE: "Field Visit" During High Flows Due To Snow Melt Concrete 70,000 cfs, Mt. Vernon 77,000 cfs.  People in Sedro Woolley wanted dam on the Sauk.  Nookachamp area was inundated by backwater from the main river.  "...residential homes that have been constructed in the flood plains from Sedro Woolley to Marblemount should have added consideration for flood control."
8/25/1967 DRAFT Resolution from WRAC to County Commissioners Purpose of FCZD was to raise taxes for flood control activities.  Agreed to comp plan (attached) that would raise levees to 8 year protection to include "fuse plugs" to eliminate critical levee failures.  In addition, a program of public information and control of the flood plain will be adopted to insure that developments are controlled and a false sense of security does not exist.
4/29/1974 Skagit Conservation District ltr to Corps re Wild and Scenic River System designation for the Sauk River SCD didn't want designation because it would eliminate flood control structures on the Sauk River.  SCD demanded that "a feasibility study be made of both the Sauk River flood control structure and the Avon Bypass by the COE before allowing any classification of the river.


Skagit Conservation District ltr to Corps SCD wanted public meeting in Sept. so the Corps could discuss Sauk River dam and Avon Bypass concepts and the impacts of the Wild & Scenic River act because, "It has been a long time since either the Avon Bypass or the Sauk Dam have been discussed here."
7/26/1974 Corps ltr to Skagit Conservation District Corps agreed to come to meeting with SCD on September 18th to discuss Avon Bypass and Sauk River Dam.
4/1/1975 Ltr to Senator Magnuson fm BCC re flood control dam on Sauk

BCC wanted Magnuson to request the public works committee to make a study of the Sauk River with regard to the feasibility of a flood control dam.  "...the Sauk can carry 40% of the water that empties into the Skagit River."

4/22/1975 Ltr to Representative Meeds fm BCC re Wild & Scenic River Study "The immediate purpose of this letter is to request that you direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to undertake feasibility studies of a flood control dam on the  Sauk River and that you secure necessary funds to allow completion of these studies as soon as possible."
5/1/1975 Corps ltr to Senator Magnuson re response to County ltr to Senator 4/1/1975 "...the Pacific Northwest River Basins Commission did not recommend a plan for the Skagit basin..."  "The Corps of Engineers has not conducted feasibility studies of such a project" (i.e. Sauk River Dam).
5/7/1975 Congressman Meeds ltr to Corps re scenic river classification and feasibility study Congressman wanted to know if such a study had been done and didn't feel Wild and Scenic classification would be done before 1978 or 1979.
5/19/1975 Corps ltr to Congressman Meeds ltr to Corps re Sauk River dam "The studies that were undertaken as part of the comprehensive investigation were preliminary in nature and not intended to determine the feasibility of the Sauk project."
7/17/1975 Series of letters re Congressman Meeds inquiry re changes in the deferred to active project list. Congressman used recycled paper for his stationary.  BCC wanted to activate the 1966 Levee and Channel Improvement project; achieve additional storage behind Baker Dam; have a study done on the feasibility of the Sauk River Dam; agreed that if Sauk not feasible then would look at Avon Bypass.  "We, as a Board, know that we are sitting on a "Time Bomb" in the Skagit Valley.
7/23/1975 Draft Corps ltr to Representative Meeds re response to BCC ltr re 4 potential flood control projects in the Skagit Valley Corps was waiting on Congressional approval of 58,000 acre feet of storage behind Upper Baker dam; expected levee project to become "active" in the near future; waiting of Senator Magnuson to request feasibility study for Sauk Dam; Avon Bypass to be kept in "deferred" status pending a change in position by the county.
8/14/1975 Ltr to Corps fm George Dynes of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association re recommendations for Skagit Flood Control Committee recommended Skagit River Levees, Upper Baker Dam project and; a study on the Sauk River dam.
10/29/1975 Corps "FACT SHEET" on Skagit River Basin Document looked at Upper Baker Storage; Levee and Channel Improvement; Avon Bypass; and the Lower Sauk Project.  Characterized the Avon Bypass as "authorized in 1936 as a "make work" project.
1/14/1977 Draft letters to the President from Dept. of Agriculture and the ACOE

The documents represent what happens when there are one too many agencies trying to comment on a flood project when one of the agencies doesn't know anything about the flood issue.

The Dept. of Ag stated, "In addition, the Department of the Army, in their response to the study report, pointed out that designation of the Sauk River would preclude construction of, a flood control storage project on the river. However, alternatives to the Sauk River site exist which would provide the same degree of flood protection for downstream areas.

The ACOE responded ORIGINALLY with, "We have never provided such information to them.  From a practical standpoint, approx. 40% of the unregulated flow in the lower Skagit river basin comes from the Sauk RiverLevee system's heights in the lower Skagit basin are limited by foundation conditions.  Accordingly, it is considered that there is no alternative to flood control storage on the Sauk River.  We would suggest that the above quoted sentence be deleted."  Upper level management tuned it down a little, see Insert A.
7/18/1977 Letter to Corps Headquarters from Congressman Lloyd Meeds re Sauk River dry dam. Asked the following questions: 1)How much flood protection would be provided; 2)Will a dry dam on the Sauk be engineeringly sound, economically justified and environmentally safe?; 3) What type of time frame needed for study.
7/27/1977 Corps MFR re responses to 7/18/1977 letter from Congressman Meeds re "Dry Dam" on Sauk River A "dry dam" for FC only would be "engineeringly sound." The economic justification has not been determined in any studies and would not be available until after re :on level survey studies. We do not understand the term "environmentally safe" but do believe an "environmentally acceptable" project could be formulated.  A detailed study of the Sauk could be completed in 4 years at the cost of $400,000. Checkpoint 1 could be reached in 1-1/2 years at a cost of $150,000.
2/9/1978 Corps MFR re Formulation of Alternatives Early discussion of the hydrology, Sauk River Dam; flooding the Samish; Avon ByPass: and levees for the 1979 levee improvement project.  Hard to see much difference from what is being considered today. 
See also: 5/9/2012 Corps of Engineers GI Study Presentation
4/28/1978 American Canoe Association ltr to Corps re Skagit River & Channel Improvement Project  "We were pleased that alternative 3 received the greatest support from those attending the hearing.  We would also support alternative 3. Our greatest concern is with alternatives 4 and 6 which include construction of upstream storage facilities on the Sauk River."  A/C NOTE:  Very opposed to Sauk River Dam project.  
1/11/1979 Corps MFR re Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvements MFR describes 3 mtgs: Al Swif in his Everett office, a luncheon with the Elks Club, and the County Commissioners .  Corps gave Congressman draft legislation for 79 Omnibus Bill on Skagit.  Congressman told Elks Club mtg that they had to choose between levee improvements, Avon Bypass or Sauk Dam because only one stood a chance of making it through Congress.
6/15/1978 Letter from US Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson to Skagit County Flood Control Council  “The House currently is considering legislation to designate the Skagit River and its tributaries under the National wild and Scenic Rivers Act. One provision adopted in committee would allow for a dam on the Sauk River if it were proved to be the most. cost-effective method of flood control.
5/25/1982 Skagit River Flood Control Committee Recommendation For A Flood Control Plan For The Skagit River Basin “If at some point in the middle future the Sauk River Dam proves to be unfeasible, and if the Limited Dike Improvements, Debris Removal and Floodplain Management are still not enough, Skagit County should then commence to pursue and investigate a By-Pass, with project completion scheduled for the distant future.”
10/28/1982 Skagit River Flood Control Committee Proposed Budget for 1983 Proposed budget for flood control includes a study for a Sauk River Dam, a match with dike districts for $200,000 in levee improvement and other ideas to reduce the Skagit River Flood Risk.