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Decommissioning moves forward

EWEB outlines plans to end Leaburg Hydro

EUGENE: It may be 20 years or more before any significant changes are made but area residents would like a better understanding of how the removal of the Leaburg Dam will impact them. That’s the message several speakers brought when they testified at the utility’s August 1st board meeting.

Jake Grisley of Leaburg Dam Road reminded the board that several hundred people live on the south side of the McKenzie in that area. If the Leaburg Dam and bridge are removed, he said, property owners along Leaburg Dam Road and Leashore Drive could be adversely impacted by road widening or potential condemnation of their properties. Other issues he cited included bedrock and the topography that would increase road construction costs and impact to the public water supply system for the Leashore Drive area, with existing water lines under that roadway and a treatment plant that might need to be replaced.

The existing intersection of Goodpasture Road and Highway 126 was another concern for Grisley, who said besides the one-lane restriction on the covered bridge itself, other safety concerns included the need for a new left turn lane on the highway in an area restricted by a tall rock hillside.

Other speakers said they were concerned about challenges faced by already existing emergency evacuation plans for these areas. Should something happen to the Goodpasture Covered Bridge, people fleeing the area during an emergency would likely have to travel some 40 miles on back country logging roads if the Leaburg Dame bridge is removed, they said.

Nadine Scott, who lives on Leaburg Lake, referenced her background as an area realtor and past president of the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce. She criticized EWEB for a plan to remove the “existing green energy” hydro project at a cost of $221 million after already spending $5.2 million to repair the roll gates in Leaburg Dam and another $10 million for a new substation in Leaburg.

Scott felt the draining of the lake would have a serious impact on the McKenzie Valley’s tourism-dependent economy and stressed support for “preserving what we have.”

Following public testimony Lisa Krentz, EWEB’s generation manager gave a review of the draft Leaburg Decommissioning Action Plan (LDAP). The 55-page document, she said, was only in its early stages, calling it a “plan for a plan.”

The report itself notes that it does “not provide any details on the outcomes that those work plans will ultimately deliver. As such, the LDAP will not answer many of the specific questions that have arisen in response to the Board’s January 2023 decommissioning decision. Rather, it is intended to identify the important issues and provide a framework for how those issues will eventually be resolved in full detail.”

Some of the issues that are yet to be fleshed out include detailed construction plans, schedules, budgets, or risk assessments. Those items though, will take into account the “triple bottom line” approach EWEB used to come to its decision to close the project,

Krentz said the whole process is likely to continue “well through 2040.”


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