News: Corps warns some pile dikes underwater: Columbia River rises with spring runoff
Story by Michelle Helms
PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says high river levels are concealing some pile dikes in the Columbia River creating additional underwater hazards for boaters and commercial mariners. The Corps does not expected the Columbia River at Vancouver to reach flood stage at this time but still urges boaters to practice safe navigation as water levels remain high into next week.
Pile dikes, also called wing dams, are wooden structures that extend perpendicular from the shore into the river. The structures have a variety of uses ranging from protecting the shore to managing the flow of the navigation channel.
Corps waterway maintenance managers say the tops of most piles are frequently just below the surface during high water events and can cause serious damage to vessels attempting to transit over them. Commercial and recreational mariners can check the most current navigation maps closely for pile dike locations; maps are available on the Portland District website at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/navigation/home.asp.
The Columbia River is running high due to melting snow from the recent warm weather and heavy rains in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, western Montana and the Cascade and Rocky mountains in Canada. Releasing more water than usual from Columbia River basin reservoirs creates storage space for additional spring snowmelt and helps relieve potential future flood conditions in the lower basin.