The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informs Lookout Point and Hills Creek reservoir users that water level will be kept low this summer. Hills Creek will be at least 66 feet lower than normal full pool and Lookout Point will be at least 60 feet lower than normal full pool. This will affect recreational access at the high water boat ramps, but the low water ramps are available.
Hills Creek Dam and Reservoir are located on the Middle Fork Willamette River about 45 miles southeast of Eugene, Oregon. The Corps will rehabilitate the dam’s two spillway gates July through September 2016, improving its ability to reduce flood damage to Eugene, Springfield and other downriver communities.
Lookout Point Dam and Reservoir are located on the Middle Fork Willamette River about 22 miles southeast of Eugene, Oregon, and downstream of Hills Creek Dam. The Corps will rehabilitate the last of the dam’s five spillway gates starting in July. This will complete work to improve the dam’s ability to reduce flood damage to downriver communities.
These repairs requires the Corps to keep each reservoir at least 20 feet below spillway crest for worker safety. Lookout Point’s lower water levels will make the Black Canyon, Meridian Park and Hampton Landing boat ramps unusable for trailered boat launches although the low-water boat ramp at Signal Point should be available throughout the summer. Hills Creek's lower water levels will make the Bingham Landing and CT Beach Park boat ramps unusable for trailered boat launches although the low-water ramp at Packard Creek Campground should be available throughout the summer.
“We understand the impact of these drawdowns on reservoir users, but our highest priority is improving these dams’ ability to reduce flood damage to Willamette River communities,” said Erik Petersen, Operations Project Manager for the Corps’ Willamette Valley Project.
Neither reservoir would have reached the maximum elevation this year due to lack of spring rain.
Lookout Point is the largest of the Corps’ 10 Willamette Valley Project flood damage reduction reservoirs with a total capacity of 477,700 acre feet of flood storage. It is estimated to alone have prevented $55.6 million in damage to Willamette River communities in 2013.
Inspections and evaluations in 2010 determined that many Portland District dams’ spillway gates might not operate properly when water levels are high and significant pressure is acting on the gates. After replacing or repairing critical components at several dams, Portland District has been pursuing long-term gate rehabilitation at its Willamette Valley Project dams.
The Corps has strengthened all spillway gates at Big Cliff, Fall Creek, Foster, Green Peter and Dexter dams in the Willamette Valley. Designs are underway for future repairs to Cougar, Blue River and Detroit dams.
For more information about the Corps’ Willamette Valley flood risk management mission and spillway gate rehabilitation program, visit http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Water/SpillwayGates.aspx.
For information about other Willamette Valley Project recreation options, visit http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Willamette.aspx.