Plan for 13 Willamette River Basin dams to be discussed in Eugene, Sweet Home, Stayton

From the Statesman Journal

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A plan that will reshape management of 13 dams and reservoirs in the Willamette River Basin is the subject of four meetings next week in Eugene, Springfield, Sweet Home and Stayton.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hosting the meetings after it released a 2,200 page blueprint for managing how it stores and releases over 500 trillion gallons of water used for drinking, irrigation and recreation in the Willamette Valley.

A public comment period for people to weigh in on the seven alternatives the Corps are considering is underway until Feb. 23.

“What we’re doing now will be important for how we manage the system for the next 30 years,” Nicklas Knudson, acting project manager for the EIS revisions with the Corps, told the Statesman Journal in December. “This is the best chance to directly affect how we manage this system in the future. At this point, we can still make changes.”

While the meetings are good for information and to ask questions of the Corps, people still need to submit comments via email ( or mail to PO Box 2946, Portland, OR., 97208-2946.

In-person planned meetings in the Willamette Valley This Week


12:30-2:30 p.m., Tuesday

Lane Community College

4000 E. 30th Ave., Building 19, Room 102, Eugene

Sweet Home

6-8 p.m., Wednesday

Sweet Home Senior Center

880 18th Ave., Sweet Home


Noon to 2 p.m., Thursday

Stayton Community Center

400 W. Virginia St., Stayton

What’s going on?

The document in question is known as a draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. It took more than three years to complete and was last updated in 1980 and comes following years of lawsuits and court orders demanding the Corps retrofit dam operations to help native salmon and steelhead avoid extinction.

The plan lays out seven different “alternatives” for how the agency could manage the 13 dams and reservoirs. People can comment on which alternatives they like most and why.

The Willamette Basin’s dams and reservoirs, which stretch from Cottage Grove to Detroit and include major rivers like the Santiam and McKenzie, were originally designed to reduce flooding. That main purpose won’t change.

But within its secondary operations, and in the document, the Corps proposes some dramatic actions. Its “preferred alternative” — the option they’re leaning toward — includes fundamentally changing Cougar Reservoir and building multimillion-dollar structures to help fish pass through dams and regulate river temperatures. It includes scaling back hydropower, eventually scaling back hatchery fish programs and tweaking how much water is stored in the 13 reservoirs.

For more details, go to

The links above will take you to the Corps documents.. While the entire document is massive the first part of it gives and abbreviated examination/explanation of the preferred alternatives.

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