Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, January 26, 2018, Page 12, Image 12

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January 26, 2018
Army Corps is considering fi ve construction options
PROJECT from Page 1
to fl ooding during high river
fl ows.
Butler, who serves on the
board of directors for the San-
tiam Water Control District,
said the impacts could be dev-
astating for agriculture in the
Mid-Willamette Valley.
“If we can’t irrigate, we
can’t plant vegetable crops.
If we can’t plant them, then
NORPAC is looking for veg-
etable crops elsewhere,” But-
ler said. “It’s going to be an
Farmers are not the only
ones who would be impacted.
The cities of Salem and Stay-
ton both get their drinking wa-
ter from the North Santiam,
and Detroit Lake is a popular
destination for fi shing, boat-
ing and outdoor recreation
that drives tourism in the area.
The Army Corps is current-
ly considering fi ve construc-
tion alternatives with varying
levels of drawdown at Detroit
Lake. Tom Conning, spokes-
man for the agency’s Portland
District, said it is still early in
the process and will take years
to complete an environmental
impact study before work can
begin in 2021, at the earliest.
Butler said local farmers
are not pushing the panic but-
ton yet, but they realize how
much is at stake.
“The jury’s still out,”
he said. “We have to take a
wait-and-see attitude on how
they’re going to make it hap-
The proposal
Completed in 1953, De-
troit Dam is a 450-foot-tall
concrete structure on the
North Santiam. It provides
321,000 acre-feet of water
storage and has a peak elec-
tricity generation capacity of
100 megawatts.
It is also a barrier for salm-
on and steelhead that migrate
to the Pacifi c Ocean before re-
turning up the river as adults to
spawn. Over the last 10 years,
fewer fi sh have returned on
average into the Upper Willa-
mette Basin compared to the
previous 50-year average, ac-
cording to the Oregon Depart-
ment of Fish & Wildlife which
tracks passage at Willamette
Falls Dam.
Combined spring and fall
chinook returns averaged
11,757 fewer fi sh per year, or
roughly a 24 percent reduction,
while winter steelhead returns
averaged 3,852 fewer fi sh, a 41
percent reduction. To protect
the species, the National Ma-
rine Fisheries Service issued
a biological opinion — called
a BiOp — in 2008 outlining
what the Army Corps needs to
do to improve fi sh survival.
Part of the BiOp includes
the project proposed at Detroit
Dam, said Conning, the Corps
“Basically, (the BiOp) gave
us some recommendations for
reasonable, prudent actions
to take so we did not violate
the Endangered Species Act,”
Conning said.
The plan has two compo-
First, the Corps would build
a temperature control tower —
called a selective withdrawal
structure — roughly the height
U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers
The 450-foot-tall Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River near Detroit, Ore.
Selective Withdrawal Structure explained
The construction of a temperature control tower next to Detroit Dam would allow
for mixing water from various depths, resulting in optimal temperature flows
downstream for migrating fish.
Temperature control tower
Better water
temperatures for
migrating adult fish.
Floating intake
pulls warmer
water from the
surface in
summer, and
cooler water
from below in
the fall.
Warmer surface water or cooler water from
deeper within the reservoir mix in the penstock
and in Big Cliff Reservoir downstream.
of a 30-story building next to
Detroit Dam. It would mix wa-
ter from different levels of the
reservoir to ensure the water
released downstream is neither
too warm nor too cold for the
fi sh.
“Salmon need a specifi c
temperature to navigate all the
way back to where they orig-
inally spawn from,” Conning
The second component
would be a fl oating screen
structure about the size of a
football fi eld to capture ju-
venile fi sh swimming down-
stream in the reservoir so they
can be moved past the dam
either by truck or bypass pipe.
Together, Conning estimat-
ed the work will cost between
$100 million and $250 million.
But fi rst, the Corps must com-
plete its environmental impact
study evaluating the impacts
on everything from aesthetics
to the water supply.
“We’re getting feedback
from the public about their
concerns,” Conning said.
Five alternatives
For farmers, the chief con-
cern remains how the Corps
plans to build the project, and
Farmers are legally
required to respond
to the census
CENSUS from Page 1
“There is still a lot of interest in small farms across
the country,” he said. “In the Northwest, we have quite
a few small farms.”
In a statement released late last year, Secretary of
Agriculture Sonny Perdue said every response matters.
“The Census of Agriculture is USDA’s largest data
collection endeavor, providing some of the most wide-
ly used statistics in the industry,” Perdue said. “Col-
lected in service to American agriculture since 1840,
the census gives every producer the opportunity to be
represented so that informed decisions can support
their efforts to provide the world with food, fuel, feed
and fi ber.”
Farmers are legally required to respond to the cen-
sus. Individual grower information is kept anonymous
and used solely for statistical purposes.
Census surveys can be fi lled out online or by mail,
though online reporting is encouraged. Mertz said sur-
veys take an average of 50 minutes to complete.
“Of course, there are some operations that are small
and fairly simple,” he said. “Some of the larger, more
complicated operations you expect will take a bit lon-
More information is available at www.nass.usda.
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
Alan Kenaga/Capital Press
how that will affect the irriga-
tion supplies.
The alternatives for build-
ing the tower at Detroit Dam
range from draining the reser-
voir for two full years — what
the agency calls “building in
the dry” — to no drawdown
whatsoever, or what it calls
“building in the wet.”
Building in the dry poses
the lowest safety risk of the al-
ternatives, but potentially has
the greatest impact on water
Building in the wet, on the
other hand, has the lowest im-
pact on water users, but is the
most expensive and dangerous
of the fi ve options. Anoth-
er option involves building a
temporary coffer dam around
the construction site, allowing
the reservoir level to remain
The Santiam Water Con-
trol District was formed in
1954 and is responsible for
delivering irrigation water
to more than 17,000 acres of
farmland, along with water to
three hydroelectric plants and
other uses.
The district also provides
the majority of municipal
water to the city of Stayton,
population 8,080.
District Manager Brent
Stevenson said the project de-
tails are still fuzzy, but each
of the Corps’ fi ve alternatives
describes at least one season
with reduced or no stored wa-
“Early on, it’s just really
hard to clearly identify what
the range of impacts could
be,” Stevenson said. “The
worst case is we don’t have
water available for the draw-
down years.”
The value of the crops
grown in the area adds up
quickly. Marion County is the
top agricultural producer in
Oregon, according to the 2012
USDA Census of Agriculture,
with 286,194 acres of farms
generating $592.8 million in
farm gate value. The district
provides water to about 6 per-
cent of the county’s farms.
Mary Anne Cooper, public
policy counsel for the Oregon
Farm Bureau, said the organi-
zation will submit comments
to the Corps, and has big con-
cerns from both an irrigation
and fl ood control perspective.
“There’s not a ton of infor-
mation out there, but one of
the plans does look at dewa-
tering the reservoir,” Cooper
said. “It seems like there’s got
to be another way to achieve
any fi sheries objectives that
need to be achieved.”
Public feedback
The Corps won’t release
its draft impact study until
next year. Until then, Con-
ning said the agency is urging
stakeholders to provide feed-
back that will help it analyze
each alternative.
“We need input from the
public,” he said. “They might
know something we don’t
about how much water they
need, or those types of is-
Steve Keudell, a board
member of the Santiam Water
Control District and co-owner
of Keudell Farms in Aums-
ville, Ore., said draining De-
troit Lake for any period of
time could potentially alter
the face of farming in this part
of the Willamette Valley.
“You’d have to try to raise
crops that aren’t so dependent
on irrigation,” Keudell said.
“You basically either turn into
a dryland farmer, or maybe
you’d have to look at drill-
ing irrigation wells. ... There’s
More information about the
project and a timeline of activ-
ities is available on the Army
Corps website at http://www.
obviously going to be an ex-
In 39 years of farming,
Keudell said he has never gone
without irrigation water for his
fi elds.
“In our case, all lower
ground has water rights on it,”
he said. “The peppermint and
the vegetables get watered ev-
ery year. There’s never been
a year, and there won’t be a
year that I foresee, when you
wouldn’t need irrigation for
On Tuesday, Stevenson
submitted four pages of writ-
ten comments to the Corps on
behalf of the district. He asked
the Army Corps to complete a
detailed “water budget” iden-
tifying all legal water rights,
which would then be reviewed
by the Oregon Water Resourc-
es Department to determine
exactly which rights would be
vulnerable during the project
The district also wants to
the Corps to analyze which
fl ows may released from the
nearby Big Cliff Dam during
Big Cliff Dam is 2.7 riv-
er miles below Detroit Dam,
though it does not store nearly
as much water and is instead
relied upon as a “re-regula-
tion” dam, smoothing out
fl ows from power generation
at Detroit Dam.
“It is critical to understand
if Bureau of Reclamation
stored irrigation water will be
available during the construc-
tion period,” Stevenson wrote
in his comments. He added the
federal Bureau of Reclamation
should be included as a coop-
erating agency on the project.
For now, Keudell said he is
trying not to get too alarmed
and carry on business as usual.
“I just don’t know how it’s
going to work,” he said.
‘It’s not going to be fun for producers.
It’s not complicated, but it’s different’
EPA from Page 1
having the information on fi le
will help responders react to re-
ports of odors.
The court has twice granted
EPA motions to delay the rule.
The most recent stay expired Jan.
22. As of Wednesday, the court
had neither fi nalized the order
nor granted the EPA more time.
The EPA, in its motion, said it
will use the time to contact farm-
ers without internet access, fi nish
a streamlined reporting form and
beef up its call center to keep the
National Response Center’s sys-
tem from crashing.
The federal government can
levy fi nes of up to $50,000 a day
for not reporting emissions under
CERCLA. The law also allows
environmental groups to sue to
enforce the law.
Efforts to obtain comment
from the Waterkeeper Alli-
ance, the lead plaintiff in the
lawsuit that led to the mandate,
were unsuccessful.
If the court denies the motion
to delay the rule, the EPA has in-
structed producers to email the
National Response Center. With-
in a month, producers would
have to follow up and fi le a form
with EPA regional offi ces.
“It’s not going to be fun for
producers. It’s not complicated,
but it’s different,” Washington
State Dairy Federation policy
director Jay Gordon said. “You
check the box and then do some-
thing more productive.”
EPA has detailed how to
comply with the mandate on a
Farms won’t have to report
every day that their livestock
emitted gas. Instead, producers
will be able to register their an-
imals as continuously releasing
“The EPA is doing its
darnedest to be helpful,” Gor-
don said.
It’s unclear how many
producers meet the reporting
threshold. The EPA estimates
44,900, but that number was
derived eight years ago and has
not been updated. The National
Cattlemen’s Beef Association
calculated more than 68,000
beef producers will have to re-
port. The U.S. Poultry and Egg
Association estimates 141,000
poultry farms will need to re-
The EPA says there are too
many geographic, climate and
operational factors to estimate
emissions by number of ani-
mals. Calculation sheets devel-
oped by different universities
yield different estimates for
similar operations.
The EPA says farmers won’t
be expected to pinpoint emis-
sions, just report a broad range.
Farmers won’t be required to
monitor or reduce emissions.
The U.S. Egg and Poultry
Association has developed its
own reporting form. The form
includes a boilerplate estimate
of emissions.
The National Cattlemen’s
Beef Association also plans to
offer its members a streamlined
reporting form when the court
makes the mandate fi nal, said
Scott Yager, the association’s
chief environmental counsel.
The association estimates
cattle operations with as few as
200 head could meet the report-
ing threshold based on research
conducted on grain-fed cattle in
The reporting requirement
also applies to cattle in grass
pastures. There is no worksheet
to calculate emissions from
those type of operations, Yager
He advised all producers to
look into whether they need to
“You should complete a
worksheet and get it notarized
and keep it in your fi le,” Yager