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Fish trapping underway

From the May 15, 2002 edition of McKenzie River Reflections

Fish trapping underway

Fish craneWALTERVILLE: Fish herders expect to finish up their work next week, allowing other workers to start in on some costly improvements to the Walterville power canal. The Eugene Water & Electric Board’s fish recovery program began on May 1st.

Utility public relations manager Marty Douglas said as many as 1,000 fish have been netted in a day. Captured species have included Chinook salmon, skulpin, cutthroat trout, white fish, summer steelhead and bull trout. Most have been trucked back to the river for release. The cutthroat, thought to be native to the canal system, are being held in  a storage tank at the Leaburg Trout Hatchery through the summer. They’ll later be brought back to the manmade channel.

Upgrades to the aging hydroelectric project will include the installation of a fish screen at the canal’s inlet. Plans for the powerhouse include replacement of both turbines and one generator as well as rewinding the other generator. The Walterville salmon rack (which blocks upstream travel toward the turbines) is slated for replacement with a new “velocity barrier” design.

The new fish screen will require raising the incoming flow from one and a half to three feet. In order to accomplish that three small dam-like structures, called “chevrons,” will be built in the mainstream channel of the McKenzie River just downstream from the canal inlet. The chevrons would taper down in a “V” shape with their high sides on each bank. Each chevron would be “notched” in the middle to create a 35 foot wide passage for boaters to use.

Fish blocked by the screen will have to be returned to the river. EWEB plans to route them back through a 54 inch diameter tube, which will be buried down the middle of Partridge Lane. The pipe would be about a quarter mile long.

Other changes at the Walterville inlet would affect boaters as well. The existing landing sometimes traps boaters inside the canal. A new ramp is planned out on the main river, just upstream. It will include parking spots for four to five vehicles.

Image above: Workers used a boom truck to hoist fish netted out of the Walterville power canal last Thursday.

Utility drills for clean water

EUGENE: Drilling began last week on the first well that will be part of the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s effort to develop a backup supply of water.

The McKenzie River is the only source of water for more than 160,000 Eugene-area residents and businesses. A 1998 Water Supply Plan recognized that the McKenzie supply was at risk in the event of chemical spill or other emergency upriver from EWEB’s intake plant, according to utility spokesman Lance Robertson. “Unusually high summertime demand also could strain the McKenzie River treatment plant’s ability to provide enough water to serve customers. EWEB’s Board of Commissioners approved moving forward with wellfield development in December 2000.”

Two production wells and four monitoring wells will be drilled this year near the confluence of the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. The wells, in the Coburg Road and Crescent Drive area, are among seven production well sites EWEB eventually may develop in the area between now and 2005, when the wellfield’s first phase will be completed.

Robertson said EWEB anticipates the groundwater under the wellfield initially will provide about 15 million gallons of water during an emergency or other situations when the utility’s McKenzie River source is limited. The cost of the project is estimated at between $8 million and $11 million, and will be financed by bonds.


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