The Grant County Public Utility District (Grant PUD) is asking for $5 million in federal funding to assist with the cost of upgrades that will make Priest Rapids Dam more resistant to earthquakes.

The project, which will anchor the spillway at the dam more firmly into the bedrock its built upon, is expected to cost the utility between $38 million and $45 million.

The improvements will be similar to the ones that were done 22 miles up the Columbia River at Wanapum Dam in 2014.

The 65-year-old concrete structure has been deemed safe and stable by inspectors but it isn’t heavy enough to adequately hold up to the weight of the Columbia River by modern standards without additional stabilizing.

Permit applications for the project must be submitted by October to qualify for federal funding.

Once Grant PUD procures the funding, it will have three years to complete the project, which is expected to take only about 18 months to complete.

The work at Priest Rapids was conceived shortly after the discovery of a crack in Wanapum Dam several years ago, but the utility says other large projects have taken priority since then.

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