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

Corps adds three listening sessions on hydropower

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled three “listening sessions” for this month as part of a continuing project reviewing hydropower in the Willamette River basin.

Two of the sessions will be virtual on Webex, with the third at the Salem Public Library. Session 1 runs 2 to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13. Join the session at https://usace1.webex.com/wbxmjs/joinservice/sites/usace1/meeting/download/413e5d0b335f450694ec8a3c94feef5d

The second session is the same day from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Use the same Webex address.

The in-person session is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov.14, at the library’s Anderson Room A on the plaza level at 585 Liberty St. in Salem.

The listening sessions will begin with a brief introduction by Corps officials. The remainder of the session will be dedicated to collecting input.

The Corps also will accept brief written statements during the listening sessions. If you are unable to attend a listening session, submit a request to the project email address: [email protected] for further information on how to submit your written statement. 

“We look forward to collecting the public’s input as we prepare this report,” said Hugh Kim, the project manager for the disposition report. “This is an opportunity for the public to contribute to decisions to be made at the Congressional level.”

Earlier the Corps held a pair of similar sessions in September on the project, which includes the Big Cliff and Detroit dams on the North Santiam River.

The Corps is seeking 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. 

Key questions that the Corps is hoping to answer are:

• Whether and how discontinuing hydropower production at one or more of the dams would affect how those dams, other dams in the system, and the system as a whole would be operated for their other authorized purposes;

• How the costs of discontinuing hydropower would be apportioned; and

• What impacts there would be on dam safety and compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

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 identifying 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.

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