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

Corps of Engineers hosting sessions on hydropower

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning a pair of virtual public information sessions to discuss the role of hydropower at their Willamette Valley dams.

The system includes the Big Cliff and Detroit dams on the North Santiam River.

The sessions are set for Wednesday, Sept. 13, from noon to 1 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 14, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Those interested in the zoom broadcast should go to https://usace1.webex.com/dispatcher/dispatcher/jsp/pmrnotfound.jsp or email [email protected]. Participants also can dial in by phone at 844-800-2712 using the access code 1998 06 7062.

The virtual sessions will include time for questions from the public.

Later this year, the Corps also will host public listening sessions during which the public can provide perspective and opinions on the future of hydropower in the Corps’ Willamette Valley system. 

The Corps will include the comments in a report to Congress aimed at helping inform the lawmakers’ decision-making process. 

The dates of these future sessions will be published on the Portland District website.

Federal legislation called the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 authorizes the Corps’ Portland District to complete a report to Congress containing information on a determination of federal interest in, and identify the effects of, removing hydropower as an authorized purpose – in whole or in part – from the Willamette Valley system of hydropower dams.

The report will inform whether the Portland District should proceed to what is known as a full disposition study. The study would assess in detail whether to remove hydropower at one or more dams, and the effects that would have on the system. The report provides information requested by Congress and will not necessarily result in a decision on hydropower.

Background

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)  operates 13 dams in the Willamette River basin. Each dam provides flood risk management, power generation, water quality improvement, water supply, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation for the Willamette River and many of its tributaries. Nine of the Willamette Valley dams, including Big Cliff and Detroit, generate electricity from the power of water passing through the dams. Collectively, these dams can provide enough power to service about 300,000 homes (500 megawatts).

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