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Cougar refill delayed

COUGAR DAM: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will delay refilling Cougar and Fall Creek reservoirs and conduct spill operations at Foster Dam because of recent litigation. The delay will impact boating and recreation activities.

"However, because annual water year forecasts have high variability, it will be difficult to predict with certainty all potential impacts until later in the spring," according to a spokesman.

"Every year, we strive to meet the public's expectations surrounding water availability within the Willamette Valley System of reservoirs during the summer," said Erik Petersen, operations project manager. "There are and will always be constraints on how we manage water. People can look to last year's drought and several challenging water years over the last couple of decades to see some of the difficulties we face. However, we must find ways to protect threatened fish species if we want to continue enjoying the other benefits these dams provide and will absolutely align with the intent and direction of the court."

It's expected Cougar won't be substantially refilled until May 1st. Officials say the Corps will attempt to reach 1,571 ft. by July 1st; however, no boat ramps will be available at that reservoir elevation, "and typically, precipitation available to refill after that date is minimal."

They also note the Willamette Valley is primarily a rain-driven system rather than a predominantly snow-melt system, as is common with other Northwest reservoirs.


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