WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced H.R. 3937, a bill to designate the Third Power Plant at Grand Coulee Dam as the “Nathaniel ‘Nat’ Washington Power Plant.” This designation recognizes the work of Nathaniel “Nat” Washington, Sr., and his son, Nat Washington, Jr., who were instrumental in the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam and in harnessing hydropower as a renewable energy source for the Pacific Northwest. Rep. Newhouse released the following statement:
“Nathaniel ‘Nat’ Washington and his son, Nat Washington, Jr., changed Central Washington forever, but their story has largely been untold,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Their public service transformed the Columbia Basin, Washington state, and the entire Pacific Northwest by securing hydropower as the foundation of our region’s power system. I am proud to introduce this legislation to honor them at the Grand Coulee Dam and finally give the pioneers of Northwest hydropower the recognition they deserve.”
The bill’s introduction was also supported by state and tribal community leaders:
“Nat Washington and his son, Nat Washington, Jr., greatly contributed to the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam and paved the way for irrigation in the Columbia Basin. Thank you, Congressman Newhouse, for taking this step to officially name the Third Powerhouse at Grand Coulee Dam after them – an honor that is well-deserved,” said Representative Tom Dent, Washington State House of Representatives, 13th Legislative District.
“In the Columbia Basin, we are proud of the renewable energy produced at the Grand Coulee Dam and the irrigated agriculture we share across the nation and the world – neither of which would have been possible without the work of Nat Washington and his son. Thank you, Representative Newhouse, for recognizing these two men for their efforts to improve and develop the region we have grown to know and love,” said Representative Alex Ybarra, Washington State House of Representatives, 13th Legislative District.
“I had the opportunity to meet with ‘Nat’ Washington years ago and was very impressed with his statesmanship and willingness to ‘dream big’ for his legislative district and state. Both Nat and his son Nathaniel Washington, Jr. helped contribute to the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam and pave the way for the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project,” said Senator Judy Warnick, Washington State Senate, 13th Legislative District.
“As an earlier pioneer and settler in the area now known as Washington Flats, Nat Washington, Sr. clearly envisioned the potential of harnessing the Columbia River as a source of power and irrigation for the Columbia Basin. Nat Washington’s family went on to become stewards and champions of the native peoples and resources of the Columbia Basin. It is fitting that the Third Powerhouse be named after a visionary such as him,” said Chairman Rodney Cawston, Confederated Tribes of Colville Business Council.
Nathaniel “Nat” Washington, Sr., a descendant of President George Washington’s family, left his home in Virginia and established a homestead along the Columbia River in 1908. Shortly after arriving in Washington, Nat Sr. was elected as Grant County Prosecutor and later the first president of the Columbia River Dam, Irrigation, and Power District. In this role, Nat Sr. played a key role in the conception of, and securing approval for, the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam. He fell victim to the power of the Columbia River when he was swept away in the current, losing his life while attempting to save his brother James from drowning.
Nat Jr. shared his father’s passion for public service and after earning his law degree from the University of Washington, served as Grant County Prosecutor. He went on to serve in the Washington State Legislature for 30 years. Nat Jr. was instrumental in the development of several hydropower projects across the region, as well as the Columbia Basin Project, which is the largest water reclamation project in the United States and provides nearly $2 billion in economic benefits to the region each year.
The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest power station in the nation. With a 6,8090-megawatt generating capacity, the Dam supplies an average of 21 billion kilowatt hours of clean, affordable, and reliable electricity to 11 states and Canada each year. Reservoirs from the Dam are the backbone of the Columbia Basin Project, which supplies irrigation to 10,000 farms on 671,000 acres of farmland in the Columbia Basin.