Reclamation investigates hole discovered downstream of Pinto Dam

Media Contact: Michael Coffey, 208-378-5020,

For Release: October 05, 2020

EPHRATA, Wash. – The Bureau of Reclamation is planning an investigative excavation to determine the cause of a hole discovered 60 feet downstream of Pinto Dam. The hole is approximately 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, and is likely associated with settling material. The excavation work to determine the cause of the hole will begin Oct. 6.

“Reclamation is taking a proactive approach to this situation, is committed to the safe operation of Pinto Dam, and the expedient resolution of any potential recommendations associated with our investigatory activities,” said Ephrata Field Office Manager Marc Maynard.

Since the discovery on September 10, Reclamation has taken extra safety measures with additional daily inspections and piezometric well and seepage monitoring, which have revealed no change in the hole size or depth. The hole has not disrupted operations at the dam.

The Bureau of Reclamation is committed to safety and is a leader for dam safety worldwide. The goals of the Safety of Dams program are long-term stability of dams to protect lives and property, and to ensure the physical integrity of Reclamation dams.

Pinto Dam, part of the Columbia Basin Project, is an earthen dam constructed between 1946 and 1948 and is authorized by Congress to manage water for irrigation. The dam measures 130 feet high and 1950 feet long at its crest.

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