Elwha plume

March 2013 Planned 50 Million Tonne Sediment Dump Smothers Kelp Forest Life In NE Pacific! And It’s A Good Thing?

It would take our work 21,000 years to put this much of our rock dust in our restored ocean pasture.

Native, State, and Federal Governments are trumpeting and giving high praise to their sediment dump which is smothering sea life.  Not a peep is coming from the Environmental community about the gigantic release of what was projected to be about 50 million tonnes of their favourite rock dust into the NE Pacific. (Recent reports from the scene are now saying that the amount of sediment blanketing life in the ocean is at least 41% more than that originally stated amount.)

Elwha Clines dam busted

Elwha Clines Dam busted for salmon at a cost of $300+ million

Dams that have for a century generated power while blocking salmon from spawning on the Elwha River just west of Seattle have been breached at a cost of more than $325 million. The mineral sediments and rotting debris that has accumulated for most of  a century have been let loose. Like a flush from a giant toilet clogged for a century into the Pacific Ocean in the Strait of Juan de Fuca this is the largest intentional sediment release in history.

Underwater video also shows a dramatic and deadly shift on the sea floor, with a transition in one year from lush pastures of seafloor plants to a war zone of tattered vegetation and large areas nearly denuded.

The reason is the millions of tons of sediment. It is blocking light in the water column, and smothering the rocky seafloor with soft mounds of fine material transported by the Elwha, making it unsuitable for the holdfasts which kelp species need to affix themselves to the seafloor.

It’s is interesting to note that the news media and Green movement that are now publishing unfettered praise for this release of 50+ million tonnes of their favourite rock dust are the very same media who published an un-ending stream of hateful words just a few months ago when the tiny native village of Old Massett did 1/millionth less. The Village spread just 120 tonnes of an incredibly dilute mix of mineral and rock dust over a much larger area and have been subjected to endless tirades over their immeasurably smaller fraction of what is now filling the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

That a native village did so much less in a carefully planned and extensively monitored study of the application of mineral micronutrient to successfully replenish and restore an ocean pasture and plankton and yet attracted such damnation makes one wonder about the ethics and values of those critics who now praise their own million times larger project.

The 108-foot Elwha Dam was built in 1910, and after decades of debate it was finally dismantled last year. Roughly a third of the 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam still stands, holding back a mountain of silt, sand and gravel.

DCIM101GOPROA century of accumulated sediment fans out at the Elwha river mouth.

Removal of the upper dam was halted in January while crews repair a water-treatment plant near Port Angeles that got clogged with debris. For engineers, this phase may be the trickiest part of the dam-removal project.

“One of the risks of just looking at these beautiful plume pictures is that you really don’t know the extent of where that sediment actually ends up,” said Andrea Ogston, a UW associate professor of oceanography. “Our focus is looking at what’s happening very close to the seabed – how it’s going to move, where it’s going to get to, what’s its ultimate fate.”

“One of the arguments is that rather than having a river that’s unacceptable to salmon for many years, you can accelerate the erosion to flush the system. That way you have two or three really bad years instead of two or three pretty bad decades,” Nittrouer said.

Nobody knows when the Elwha’s sediment mother lode will begin to shift. A heavy rainfall combined with spring melt could dislodge the heap; if not, next fall and early winter rains will do the job. Either way, the UW marine geologists will be ready to hop in their van, hitch up a boat, and race out to see what happens.

“This is a very exciting time,” Ogston said. River restoration director Robert Elofson says the sediment is not killing fish.

Hogwash say other scientists, “Surveys both by airplane and by an underwater video camera show a kelp Armageddon is under way. The amount of floating kelp at the river mouth and east to the Ediz Hook has already been reduced by 44 percent in the year since dam removal began”, said Helen Berry, marine ecologist at the state Department of Natural Resources.

Underwater video also shows a dramatic shift on the sea floor, with a transition in one year from lush pastures of seafloor plants to a war zone of tattered vegetation and large areas nearly denuded.

The reason is sediment. It is blocking light in the water column, and smothering the rocky seafloor with soft mounds of fine material transported by the Elwha, making it unsuitable for the holdfasts which kelp species need to affix themselves to the seafloor.”

Here’s a link to unabashed praise by the New York Times A River Newly Wild and Seriously Muddy  and a second link to another unabashed criticism of the work of Ocean Pastures   A Rogue Climate Experiment Outrages Scientists  and here’s a link to a scholarly study showing the New York Times meets all conditions in a formal scholarly study of propaganda, or as we like to say, Lies, Damned Lies, and the Liars that make them.

For some perspective if our village pasture project were to add the same amount of rock dust to our ocean as the Elwha project but at our rate of application of our rock dust we could finish the job in just 21,000 years!