MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- WALTERVILLE:  Water levels

are being lowered in the Walterville Pond. After a routine dam safety inspection in 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reclassified the small lake’s embankment as a “high hazard” facility, saying a catastrophic breach could potentially cause a domino failure of the Walterville Canal’s embankment. “A rupture to either embankment presents a risk of significant property damage and possible loss of life,” according to FERC.

The pond was originally constructed to act as a supplemental storage area to aid in power generation. Water pumped into it from the canal was later released to add to low flows.



That activity ended years ago but water has still been added to the reservoir.

To mitigate the public safety risk, the Eugene Water & Electric Board has begun to gradually lower the pond. Over the next several years, it will be lowered in 6-inch increments until it is about even with the height of the canal.

The gradual lowering is being coupled with an extensive planting scheme that includes willows and other trees, shrubs and native grasses. Utility officials say this will allow resident animals to adjust to a smaller pond while retaining the recreational and natural habitat benefits the area provides.

The latest pond reduction and re-vegetation occurred in early February. The next draw down will be scheduled for later in the fall. EWEB plans to monitor the area and adjust as needed to mitigate any unanticipated impacts to area residents, visitors and wildlife.