News Releases

Corps to upgrade early warning sensors at Willow Creek Dam

Published Feb. 11, 2019
Willow Creek Dam

Willow Creek Dam

Starting in mid-February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, will install new sensors in the foundation of Willow Creek Dam, which will provide early warning if the dam’s performance changes over time. The current status of the dam does not indicate any problems.
Corps contractors will work from within the interior “gallery” of the dam to install replacement instrumentation in the dam’s foundation, by drilling new holes through the concrete dam and into the rock below. The Corps expects installation to be complete by the end of March.

The new sensors will measure and record the pressures at the base of the dam over time, replacing and modernizing existing dam safety monitoring equipment installed during original construction in 1983. These upgrades will enable USACE to continue to monitor the general health of the dam and ensure public safety.  

The Corps’ top priority at Willow Creek Dam is reducing flood damage to downstream communities like Heppner, Ore., and reducing risks to public safety. Regular inspections, conducted every 10 years, are a critical part of the effort to reduce those risks. The most recent inspection, in 2017, showed that the risk associated with Willow Creek Dam meets risk guidelines and there are no immediate concerns.  Long term monitoring of the dam’s foundation by the new sensors is particularly important in reducing flood risk.

Willow Creek Dam is located in Morrow County, Oregon, directly upstream from the City of Heppner. The Portland District operates the project for flood control and irrigation, and other benefits include recreation, sportfishing, and wildlife. Space for sedimentation (trapping of sediment from upstream sources) is also provided. 

Sarah P. Bennett

Release no. 19-002

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