News Releases

Virtual reality experience shows Willamette Valley environmental progress

Portland District
Published Dec. 6, 2021
Army engineers and planners continue developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Willamette Valley System (WVS) that will address the continued operations and maintenance of the System in accordance with authorized project purposes; while meeting Endangered Species Act obligations to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of listed species.

As part of this planning process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is offering the public the chance to view the progress, through virtual reality. Corps staff encourages the public to view a virtual room, which contains videos, digital boards, slides and maps that should help attendees understand the purpose of the EIS and the National Environmental Policy Act process. Additionally, the materials lay out the purpose of the EIS as well as the alternatives identified.

Army engineers and planners continue developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Willamette Valley System (WVS) that will address the continued operations and maintenance of the System in accordance with authorized project purposes; while meeting Endangered Species Act obligations to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of listed species. As part of this planning process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is offering the public the chance to view the progress, through virtual reality. Corps staff encourages the public to view a virtual room, which contains videos, digital boards, slides and maps that should help attendees understand the purpose of the EIS and the National Environmental Policy Act process. Additionally, the materials lay out the purpose of the EIS as well as the alternatives identified.

Army engineers and planners continue developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Willamette Valley System (WVS) that will address the continued operations and maintenance of the System in accordance with authorized project purposes; while meeting Endangered Species Act obligations to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of listed species.

As part of this planning process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is offering the public the chance to view the progress, through virtual reality. Corps staff encourages the public to view a virtual room, which contains videos, digital boards, slides and maps that should help attendees understand the purpose of the EIS and the National Environmental Policy Act process. Additionally, the materials lay out the purpose of the EIS as well as the alternatives identified.

The virtual room is available now and the Corps team hopes it will be a good teaser for an upcoming public meeting that they anticipate will happen this winter. This is will not be a forum for public comment, but the Corps will be seeking public comment on the draft EIS in fall 2022.

Virtual Room link: https://gather.cdmsmith.com/v/NkjxE7ErqlQ.

“We’ve spent the last two years developing a broad-range of alternatives looking to balance our various objectives, including water management flexibility and fish passage in accordance with our authorized purposes like irrigation and recreation,” said Kelly Wingard, Portland District project manager. “We are excited to have this tool help us communicate these final alternatives with the public,” she said. 

The WVS EIS continues to be a complex process and Corps staff plan to hold another public information session to help explain what has been accomplished since EIS scoping began in 2019. The upcoming meeting will present a report, which is a snapshot in time and will summarize the process the Corps has gone through to identify alternative ways of operating and maintaining the WVS, while meeting Endangered Species Act requirements.

The WVS EIS is reshaping future operations in the Willamette Valley and the Corps is analyzing a broad range of alternatives, including:

  • High-value structural options
    • Floating fish facilities
    • Temperature control towers
  • Operations, which may be impactful for some authorized purposes
    • Water release through diversion tunnel, regulating outlets, delayed refills or spillways, which could affect
      • Recreation
      • Water supply
      • Water temperature (quality)
  • A combination of the structures and operations

These alternate approaches to balancing authorized purposes will not impact flood risk management but will have important tradeoffs for stakeholders and decision makers to consider.

It’s important to note that Corps staff developed these alternatives by combining the numerous actions identified by the public during scoping and in coordination with our Cooperating Agencies.

Background: Through the Willamette Valley System Operations & Maintenance EIS, the Corps will disclose the environmental impacts of its continued operation and maintenance (O&M) of 13 multipurpose dams and federal oversight of 43 miles of revetments in the Willamette River Basin, which constitute the Willamette Valley Project. It will further disclose the environmental impacts of implementation, construction and related activities, including for downstream fish passage and temperature control at various projects.

– 30 –


Contact
Tom Conning
503-403-9378
edward.t.conning@usace.army.mil

Release no. 21-040

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