The Enloe Dam, also known as the Similkameen Dam, and its powerplant are located on the Similkameen River about 4 miles (6.4 km) west-northwest of Oroville, Washington.
Located just above Similkameen (Coyote) Falls, the concrete arch-gravity dam stands about 54 feet (16 m) high, with a crest length of about 290 feet (88 m), built between 1916 and 1923. The dam was named after the president of the Okanogan Valley Power Company, Eugene Enloe. The dam was operated to generate power at its powerplant, located about 850 feet (260 m) downstream from the dam. Lacking fish ladders, Enloe Dam blocks fish passage and completely extirpated anadromous fish migration into the upper reaches of the Similkameen River and its tributaries in Canada.
Removing Enloe Dam would open up nearly 200 miles of steelhead habitat in the Upper Columbia River system. Dam removal has the potential to boost Upper Columbia River steelhead populations, resident bull trout population, and could help increase Chinook salmon numbers, which in turn may help the critically imperiled southern resident killer whales. Our partners have continued to gather information on the impact the dam is having on the Similkameen River and the fish that rely on it. We have recently witnessed and documented fish, most likely chinook salmon, jumping at the foot of the dam.
The Okanogan Public Utility District obtained a new license for power generation from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1983, but the license was withdrawn in 1986 because the dam’s impact on anadromous fish had not been addressed. A second license for a 4.1 megawatt plant was granted in 1996, but was again rescinded on the same grounds in 2000. Yet another application was submitted in August 2008, seeking to build a new powerplant to generate 9 megawatts, fed by a new intake channel.
Enloe Dam was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 18, 1978 as an example of early power development in rural Washington.
After a study showing reenergizing the dam would be too expensive, the Okanogan PUD voted in 2019 to abandon plans. They are seeking to give the dam away to have it demolished, but removal remains too expensive. The Colville Indian tribes are seeking its removal to restore salmon to the Similkameen River.