Quakes threaten Oregon dams as lack of funding stalls improvements – Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon 2021-09-22 14:00:00 –

Newport, Oregon (KOIN) —In the northwestern Pacific, many communities are preparing for a major earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone. But in Newport on the Oregon coast, much smaller tremors can cause great destruction in the city.

According to the mayor, a small magnitude 3.0 quake collapsed two dams in Newport, sent water walls to 20 homes, large enough to take out highway 101, and the entire city without drinking water. You can leave it.

“This is the biggest problem in Newport today,” said Mayor Dean Sawyer of Newport. “It’s so huge.”

according to National inventory of damsOregon, maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, has 158 high-risk potential dams. In other words, if these dams fail, it is expected to cause loss of life. The high-risk potential can come from a variety of sources, not just the consequences of an earthquake.

There are about 20 homes under the Big Creek Reservoir in Newport, and there is a risk of flooding if the dam breaks down. Taken on September 20, 2021. (KOIN)

In Newport, there are additional issues with the Big Creek Dams at the top and bottom. It is penetration. Earthenware dams built in the late 1950s and early 1960s are very old and water is beginning to flow.

At some point, the mayor says the pressure from the infiltration causes the dam to fail.

“If there are 20 homes in the flood zone here, they will be notified 30 seconds in advance, and there is no way they can do nothing,” Sawyer said.

The city of Newport has plans to resolve this issue. We would like to build a new roller compression concrete dam in a narrow space in the canyon. The problem is that the city doesn’t know how to cover the cost of an estimated $ 80 million project.

The photo taken on September 20, 2021 shows where a new dam will be built for the Big Creek Reservoir. (KOIN)

According to Sawyer, Newport relies primarily on bonds for construction projects. However, he is not convinced that taxpayers will vote in favor of the additional costs, as the city is currently repaying public debt for new hospitals, new pools, and recent school reconstructions.

“About 35% of the population here is elderly. They couldn’t afford to raise their property taxes, and even ordinary people couldn’t be hit that hard,” Sawyer said. I did.

The mayor knows that he needs to secure funding from state or federal lawmakers to cover the cost of the project. He took US Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Kurt Schrader to the dam to see the problem themselves. He went to Washington, DC and talked to more politicians.

So far, the only financial assistance he has received is $ 14 million from the Oregon Lottery Fund, and that money may not be guaranteed. State lottery bonds are subject to lottery sales. If the state doesn’t have $ 14 million, his city won’t get it.

The Skoggins Dam on Lake Hag in Gaston, about 100 miles northeast of the Big Creek Dam, also needs improvement to withstand a major earthquake. The Skogins Dam is also a clay weir and was completed in 1975.

The photo taken on September 20, 2021 shows Gaston’s Skogins Dam and Lake Hag. (KOIN)

NS Pioneer Bureau He owns the dam and states that an earthquake in the nearby Cascadia subduction zone could deform or damage the dam, causing water to spill over or push through cracks.

Geologists have warned of the Cascadia subduction zone, which stretches about 700 miles from the northeastern Pacific coast from Northern California to British Colombia, causing a magnitude 9.0 quake that could leave destruction afterwards. there is.

“In essence, if you think of a pile of sand and shake it at the bottom, it starts to crush, and it’s a concern that it starts to crush and then fails over the top. “It’s water, Tom Vanderplatt explained to the project manager. Clean water service..

Clean Water Services has been working with the Pioneer Department to remodel the dam. It uses about 25% of the water in Lake Hag. NS Joint Water CommitteeSupplying drinking water to Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tualatin Valley Water District, Forest Grove, uses an additional 25% and 50% of the water Tuaratin Valley Irrigation District..

There is no spare drinking water in the city of Hillsboro. If the dam breaks down, the city will have to rely on the Chuaratin Valley Water District and the City of Portland for water.

“The Joint Water Commission is still our primary source, so we need to make sure that these facilities are repaired so that they can survive in the future,” said Niki, General Manager of the Joint Water Commission. Iverson says.

The dangers posed by the earthquake to the Newport Dam and the Skoggins Dam in Washington County were discovered at about the same time in 2011. Like the city of Newport, the agency has come up with solutions over the last decade.

Currently, there are three options. The first is to make the necessary repairs to the dam so that it can withstand an earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone.

The second and third options increase the reservoir capacity of the reservoir. Officials say this is necessary to keep up with Washington County’s population growth and climate change. The second option is to raise the dam 17 feet, and the third option is to replace the dam by building a new dam further below Scoggins Creek.

The Pioneer Department has already conducted an environmental assessment of the first option. The Clean Water Services, Joint Water Commission, and Tualatin Valley Irrigation District are implementing environmental impact statements on two options that allow additional water storage in reservoirs.

Bob Pike, head of the Pioneer’s Dam Safety Program, compares making decisions about dams with making medical procedures.

“The main purpose is to do no harm first, understand what you are doing, and then take appropriate action to address those issues,” he said.

Like the Newport Dam, funding is a major factor in the future of the Scoggins Dam. Under the current agreement, the federal government will pay 85% of the earthquake improvement and the remaining 15% to local agencies. You also have to bear 100% of the cost of adding water to the reservoir.

From left to right: On September 20, 2021, Tom Vanderplatt, Bobine Volini, and Niki Iverson stand in front of Skoginsdam in Gaston. (KOIN)

At this point, Bobby Nuvorini, district manager of the Tualatin Valley Irrigation District, said that whatever the price of the project, it is likely that the district will exceed the acceptable amount.

“We have a lot of small farmers, which are now reasonably priced … but we need to raise them to the point where many small farmers think they need to fold,” he said. ..

VanderPlaat said he was looking for a partner to help share costs. They are considering incorporating hydropower into the design of new dams or sharing water resources with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

According to the State Dam Safety Officials Association Oregon Increases Dam Safety Budget Significantly between 2007 and 2018. Nevertheless, in 2018 it was still well below the national average. However, the budget for potential high-risk dams was higher than the national average.

For the Scoggins and Big Creek dams, improvements may still be years away. Construction of the Scoggins Dam could begin as early as 2025 or 2026, according to the Pioneer Department. In Newport, it depends on when the city can get the money it needs.

With rising construction costs, Mayor Sawyer is afraid of what happens if the project’s funding is not readily available.

Mayor of Newport, Dean Sawyer, stands in front of Upper Big Creek Dam on September 20, 2021. (KOIN)

He knows that the project can be completed very well when he is no longer the mayor.

“This is my job today and I have to give it 100%,” he said.

September National preparation month The purpose is to raise awareness about disaster and emergency preparedness. Iverson of the Joint Water Commission states that all households need to store enough drinking water to last for 14 days in case of an emergency such as an earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone. increase. She said the family should take into account that they have enough water for their pets.

She also said families should plan where to meet if they are out of the house in the event of a disaster.

Quakes threaten Oregon dams as lack of funding stalls improvements Source link Quakes threaten Oregon dams as lack of funding stalls improvements

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