News Releases

Corps assessing future of hydropower production in Willamette Valley

Portland District
Published Sept. 1, 2023
A large concrete dam hundreds of feet high with a lake behind it and evergreen-covered hills around it on a clear, sunny summer day.

Located on the North Santiam River about an hour southeast of Salem, Detroit Dam is one 13 dams and reservoirs across the Willamette Valley whose operation and maintenance are being evaluated by the Corps as part of its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The goal of the EIS is to determine a long-term plan for managing the system of dams and reservoirs while improving conditions for endangered fish.

In two virtual public information sessions, the Portland District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will discuss the role of hydropower at their Willamette Valley dams, and how they’re answering Congress’ call to look at the future of that hydropower.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2022  provides authorization for Portland District to complete a report to Congress containing information on a determination of federal interest in, and identify the effects of, removing hydropower as an authorized purpose – in whole or in part – from the Willamette Valley system of hydropower dams.

The act authorizes “much-needed investments in projects and programs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers across the country.” This bipartisan legislation ensures timely congressional authorization of Corps studies and projects.

In response to the act, the Portland District is performing an initial assessment – based on existing information – which then will be provided in a report to Congress.

The report will inform future actions on whether the Portland District should proceed to a full disposition study. The study would assess in detail whether to remove hydropower at one or more dams, and the effects that action would have on the system.

The report provides information requested by Congress and does not result in a decision on hydropower.

Virtual Public Meetings

Wednesday, Sept. 13, noon to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

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The virtual sessions will include time for questions from the public.

Later this year, the Corps will also host separate public “listening” sessions, during which the public can provide their perspective and opinions on the future of hydropower across the Corps’ Willamette Valley system of dams. The Corps will record the comments during those sessions and include them in its report to Congress verbatim to help inform Congress’ decision-making process. The dates of these future sessions will be published on the Portland District website.

Additional information about the Corps’ report to Congress is available at


The Portland District operates 13 dams across the Willamette River basin. Each dam contributes to a water resource management system that provides flood risk management, power generation, water quality improvement, water supply, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation for the Willamette River and many of its tributaries.

Nine of the Willamette Valley dams generate hydroelectricity from the power of water passing through the dams. Eight of these facilities are owned and operated by the Corps of Engineers, and one is a private facility licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Collectively, these dams can provide enough power to service about 300,000 homes (500 megawatts).

Kerry Solan

Release no. 23-016

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