On August 7th the Winchester Water Control District (WWCD) began repair work on the derelict Winchester Dam on the North Umpqua River. Despite expansive claims by the WWCD about the extent of repairs, district representatives previously told state and federal regulators the repairs would be “to the minimum extent necessary to eliminate known and reasonably anticipated dam safety deficiencies at the dam.”
On this basis, WWCD received approvals from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the repairs. State and federal agencies issued permits even after river advocates repeatedly raised concerns and pointed out multiple irregularities in the process (read about these irregularities and concerns here).
To that end, WWCD has hired a residential and commercial basement repair company owned by their own board president — Terra Firma Foundation Systems — as the primary dam repair contractor, despite the fact his company has no experience in dam repair.
Since the start of construction, river advocates have documented and reported multiple apparent legal and permitting violations to regulatory agencies. These include a massive fish kill of native Pacific lamprey resulting from woefully inadequate salvage efforts by WWCD during the dam reservoir drawdown. River advocates believe that WWCD’s contractor continues to violate regulations and permits intended to protect fish, wildlife and water quality.
River advocates have been pressing this issue, in part, because harm from the previous Winchester Dam repair was similarly devastating and well-documented. According to state investigators, pollution from Winchester Dam repairs in 2018 degraded aquatic habitat, killed fish, and harmed the primary drinking water source for the city of Roseburg and the Umpqua Basin Water Association — altogether serving some 37,700 people.
Investigators also found that dam repairs were conducted without following best management practices, even after authorities provided WWCD with information in advance on how to protect water quality and fish.
This ecological disaster is happening now because government agencies have consistently failed to hold WWCD accountable. Please take action by sending a letter to your state and federal representatives and ask them to fully investigate these reported violations — and if substantiated, to bring enforcement action to the fullest extent possible.
Together, we can end the ongoing harm from Winchester Dam once and for all. Please encourage your elected officials to support the removal of Winchester Dam and restore the North Umpqua River to a free-flowing waterway that supports native fish, wildlife, and the people who depend on the river and its environs.
There are no officials for you to contact on Email.
However, this particular call to action doesn't target your geographical area. Don't despair, there are many other ways you can support us!
Share on social media! Tell your friends how important this action is on Facebook and Twitter!