Managing water levels - The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Lake Washington, and the Cedar River
Rearched and written by Kyle Stetler
|Spillway Dam, looking upstream, under construction. June 19, 1916.|
|Looking north east at the spillway dam and lock site. Dec. 10, 1920|
With spring runoff starting, winter floods behind us, and a record drenching March, as you walk over the locks, some of you may wonder where does all this water come from and how does the Corps of Engineers know how much to release or keep.
The water that leaves through the lock chambers, races under the tainter gates, or gushes through the fish ladder at the Hiram M. Chittenden locks has had a long journey by the time it hits the Puget Sound. Most of the water starts out as snow high in the Cascade Mountains slowly working its way down, over waterfalls, through turbines, meandering down a river, and then hanging out in Seattle before finally meeting the ocean. In this article we will take a brief look at the history of what role the locks has had on the watershed that drains through Salmon Bay and how and who manages the water levels.