News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

County looking at dredging

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Marion County is again looking at the idea of dredging under Detroit Lake’s two marinas to make them more viable when the lake level is low.

County officials first proposed the idea in the 2018-19 fiscal year, but it was tabled because of other challenges (COVID and wildfires).

The county has selected Maul Foster and Alongi, a Portland-area environmental engineering and consulting firm to scope the project, which is expected to cost $3 to $4 million. 

The first phase is a cost-benefit analysis of what to do with the debris from the operation, followed by engineering and permitting and, finally, construction.

“I would love it,” said Carly Lunski, manager of Detroit Lake Marina. “It would be great not to have to worry about low water years.”

In Detroit, low water years translate to economic struggles. And because Detroit Lake Marina and Kane’s Marina both lie on shallow shelves, they are forced to close more often when water is being drained from the lake.

Detroit Lake Marina and Kane’s Marina “serve as the economic engines for the area,” said a county report on the dredging project. County officials project a positive economic impact of more than $1 million per year if the dredging moves forward.     

The county plan calls for the removal of 162,000 cubic yard of sediment from beneath the two marinas, with Maul Foster and Alongi required to provide three possible disposal options. The work would be done in the winter offseason and thus would not interfere with the recreation season at the lake, where August alone can often produce up to 60% of annual revenue for businesses in the region.

County officials said $3 million has been secured for the project via state lottery funds and federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Early phases of the work will determine whether more money is needed. Officials estimate a possible completion date in 2026.

“I don’t see much of a downside,” Lunski said. “It will enable people to keep their jobs and thrive and it would give us an equal playing field moving forward.”

Both marinas lost their primary buildings in the 2020 wildfires. Detroit Lake Marina is operating out of portable structures, including some shipping containers, while Kane’s is conducting business out of a pair of trailers.

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