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Leaburg Lake closed to boats

LEABUEG: The Eugene Water & Electric Board has closed Leaburg Lake to all boaters following the failure of one of three roll gates at Leaburg Dam on Tuesday.

The unexpected shutdown of the gate closest to Highway 126 on Dec. 23rd leaves the run-of-the-river dam with one functioning roll gate. The middle roll gate experienced a failure in January of 2012 and is currently being repaired at the 73-year-old hydroelectric facility on the McKenzie River. The three 16-feet-tall by 100-feet-wide gates regulate the volume of water spilled from the dam on the river east of Eugene.

The No. 3 gate, closest to EWEB’s Lloyd Knox Park, is operating normally. As river levels drop over the next several days, so will the level of Leaburg Lake. As a precaution to protect boaters, the utility has closed the boat launch at Lloyd Knox Park.

Boaters who put in at any of the launch points above the dam should plan on taking out at EWEB’s Goodpasture Boat Landing, which is about a half-mile above the dam.

Utility spokesmen said shutdown of the right-bank roll gate poses no immediate threat to the public. The remaining operational gate, plus an overflow spillway, can pass more than 33,000 cubic feet per second of water. As of Friday afternoon, the river is running at about 13,000 cfs. The long-term forecast (through Jan. 2nd) calls for some rain showers, but no significant storms, so river levels will continue to drop.

Repairs to the middle roll gate should be completed by mid-January, increasing the flow capacity to more than 52,000 cfs – more than the biggest flood that occurs once every 100 years, on average.

The gates have a unique system or opening and closing. They are cylindrical steel that “roll” or rotate, up and down, to regulate the flow of the river. Water also is diverted at Leaburg Dam into a power canal that is used to generate electricity at a powerhouse four miles downstream. The dam was constructed in 1931.

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