Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reviving A Dry Waterfall

This article caught my eye as it talks about how a local artist wants to revive a waterfall that hadn't been flowing since the Ice Ages. I have reservations about messing with Mother Nature, but it's a very intriguing idea (if successful) and I wonder if this might end up setting a precedent of other waterfalls that have gone dry either by human intervention, climate change, or geologically dead from the past. Here's the article by the Columbia Basin Herald Online.


Reviving Dry Falls proposed as tourist attraction

Soap Lake artist proposes smaller version

Posted: Friday, Feb 06, 2009 - 04:06:31 pm PST

By Lynne Lynch
Herald staff writer

COULEE CITY — Although water hasn’t flowed over Dry Falls since the Ice Age, Soap Lake artist Brent Blake wants to bring the sight back on a smaller scale with a modest waterfall.

Dry Falls, about 20 miles north of Soap Lake, the site of a former waterfall, is a 3.5 mile wide hole carved out by the Ice Age Floods, according to the Dry Falls story presented at the nearby state Parks and Recreation visitor center.

During the floods, water flowed over the basalt cliffs 400 feet below, creating the chain of Sun Lakes. The falls were originally four times larger than Niagara Falls.

Years later, the site continues to attract tourists. In 2007, 51,206 people came through the Dry Falls Visitor Center, said agency spokesperson Virginia Painter.

But Blake wants to draw more tourists and business by creating a new falls to coordinate with the Ice Age Floods Institute, which also promotes the Ice Age Floods.

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Blake’s no stranger to new ideas, as he came up with the concept of creating the giant Lava Lite to sit in downtown Soap Lake as a tourist attraction.

The lamp never came to fruition due to design issues, but Target Corporation heard about his idea and sent a 50-foot hanging mechanical Lava Lamp replica to Soap Lake.

The hanging lamp is in the care of Soap Lake city officials and needs to be repaired and assembled.

His newest idea entails creating a waterfall much smaller than the original Dry Falls, so water wouldn’t cascade over the entire 3.5 miles of the cliff as it did long ago.

Nonetheless, “It’s an idea that brings tourists and dollars to the region,” Blake says.

There are existing elements in the area currently part of irrigation and water control at nearby Dry Falls Dam located at the south end of Banks Lake.

“It’s seems logical water can be circulated from the top or the bottom,” Blake explained.

The work would have to be done so equipment isn’t visible. He admits there are engineering issues that need to be studied as well as speaking to the appropriate agencies and landowners. Estimates also need to be tabulated.

He recently presented his idea to the Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway Committee and a group of locals near Ephrata. Their reactions were positive.

“That’s what waterfalls do,” he says. “They create an incredibly positive response.”

If the falls were recreated, he believes the new attraction would result in tourists visiting other businesses on their way to Dry Falls.

Also, tourists are known to use Snoqualmie Falls, Multnomah Falls, Victoria Falls and similar locations for weddings, concerts and other events, Blake stated.

Mick Qualls of Ephrata listened to Blake’s presentation with about 20 other people recently and said he is in favor of the idea.

“We all are amazed at what he does,” Qualls said. “He’s a visionary. We were in shock a little bit.”

Qualls said comments during the presentation ranged from, “that’s beautiful,” to “a great idea,” to “there’s no way you’ll get water out of Banks Lake.”

The chance of removing water from the Columbia River is zero, unless it’s returned to the irrigation system, Qualls noted.

But what Blake has drawn is “absolutely easy,” Qualls says. “You are recreating what Mother Nature did millions of years ago.”

You can read the original article and post your opinions here.

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