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On a chilly November day, third graders from Adams Elementary School in Eugene learned about the lifecycle of native salmon on a field trip to Lake Creek near Triangle Lake. The field trips take place all month as part of a program funded by EWEB grants. EWEB dedicates a portion of customer rates to inspiring kids to explore the wonders of science and learn about watershed health, water quality, and emergency preparedness.Find Out More
Hundreds of landowners in the McKenzie River valley are working with EWEB to prevent future fires and protect the river by replanting burned properties and removing fuels like dead trees and underbrush.Find Out More
EWEB works with watershed researchers, forest management agencies and local non-profits to identify threats to our water supply and public health, prioritize watershed restoration activities and help with long-term community recovery.Find Out More
EWEB conducted a multi-agency spill drill on the Willamette River this week. The practice session was to help refresh and hone skills that will be essential to respond to an actual disaster involving an oil spill in the Willamette.Find Out More
EWEB’s Source Water Champions work year-round to protect our drinking water. They take water quality samples throughout the watershed, help our neighbors be better stewards, and coordinate multi-agency teams for restoration work and hazard mitigation.Find Out More
Local middle school students from around the area learned about the entire life cycle of salmon along the McKenzie River at Salmon Watch 2022, which was held at the EWEB spawning channel. The field trip took place during peak salmon spawning season, when fish that are at least two feet long are reaching the end of their journey from the ocean to their natal streams.Find Out More
Laura Farthing has been working for EWEB for the past 14 years. She’s the lead engineer on EWEB’s water storage construction project near E. 40th and Patterson St.Find Out More
EWEB held a grand opening event for our Emergency Water Station near the Sheldon Fire Station on Saturday, September 10. The site would supply drinking water for the neighborhood in the event of a catastrophic earthquake or other disaster that cut off water to customers.Find Out More
This very pure form of coal called anthracite coal is actually used as part of the water filtration process.Find Out More
We are working to ensure our systems are ready to perform through extreme heat. Check out tips and resources to help you stay safe and comfortable while conserving energy.Find Out More
EWEB's new map displays water quality sampling results and can advise McKenzie River recreationalists where to avoid areas with toxic algaeFind Out More
How has EWEB prepared to deliver power and water to all these athletes and spectators from around the world?Find Out More
Eugene Water & Electric Board Commissioners are looking to the future in an uncertain time.Find Out More
In 2022, residential rates increased for the first time in five years. Looking ahead, a variety of long-term critical projects coupled with short-term supply chain and inflationary pressures and a dynamic power supply market are likely to impact the prices customers pay for water and power.Find Out More
A new digital fire lookout tower will soon be able to spot small fires before they threaten communities and infrastructure in the upper McKenzie River Valley, thanks to a new ALERTWildfire camera installed Monday on a communications tower owned and operated by the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB).Find Out More
EWEB, McKenzie Watershed Council and the Willamette National Forest are collaboratively working on the project, which involves relocating a portion of 115 kV transmission line.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s when EWEB's Carmen-Smith Hydroelectric Project was originally built 70 miles east of Eugene on the upper McKenzie River, the area was isolated and much of the surrounding land was undeveloped national forest with limited access. Bringing power from the generator to Eugene homes and businesses required construction of an 18-mile transmission line to Cougar Reservoir, where it connects to the Bonneville Power Administration's system.
That transmission system, still in use today, runs primarily along hillsides and ridges. But in the lower Deer Creek valley, the high voltage powerlines intersect approximately three quarters of a mile of floodplain which, under historically natural conditions, was prime habitat for fish and other wildlife.
Deer Creek is the largest tributary to the McKenzie River and journeys approximately eight miles from its headwaters to its confluence with the McKenzie, currently Eugene's sole source of drinking water. Past land management practices, such as riparian logging, had impaired the watershed and contributed to poor habitat conditions in lower Deer Creek.
"Unfortunately, when the transmission line was routed through the Deer Creek floodplain around 60 years ago, it contributed to degradation of the riparian zone and habitat," says EWEB Generation Manager Mike McCann. "By Federal law, EWEB is required to manage vegetation below the transmission lines, so periodically we have to go in and cut all of the willows and alder and other species that provide shade to the stream, further impacting habitat."
Several years ago, the U.S. Forest Service and the McKenzie Watershed Council partnered to implement a restoration project on the lower portion of Deer Creek. Constraining berms were removed, and large wood was added to create deep pools for fish cover, slower water for resting, and sorted gravels for spawning beds. Initial results were positive, and during 2017, McKenzie Watershed Council reported that spring Chinook Salmon were observed spawning in Deer Creek for the first time since the early 90s.
But the restoration project was limited by EWEB's transmission lines. "It wasn't as effective as we would have liked," says EWEB Drinking Water Source Protection Supervisor Karl Morgenstern. "The powerlines wouldn't let us restore the greater floodplain and you really need to have the scale to make this stuff work."
Then, in the early 2000s, when EWEB began the relicensing process for Carmen-Smith, the Forest Service requested the transmission lines be moved from the Deer Creek riparian zone, if possible.
"That's when EWEB first made the commitment to move the lines to the adjacent hillside," says Mike McCann. "Moving the transmission lines is going to let us open that whole floodplain up for restoration."
This summer, land was cleared for the new hillside transmission corridor. Trees that were removed will be used in Phase 2 of the Deer Creek restoration project to create additional habitat for threatened bull trout and spring Chinook salmon, as well as rainbow and cutthroat trout and beaver.
"One of the things that came out of this project was a strategy for the future given what precipitation patterns and snowpack have been recently," says Karl Morgenstern. "It makes sense for us to do work in the watershed that keeps as much water on the landscape as possible."
Floodplain restoration helps spread water across the landscape, allowing it to soak in and release later in the summer.
Transmission line relocation is scheduled to begin mid-2021 and will be performed by EWEB electric crews. First the new towers will be installed and the transmission line rerouted, allowing EWEB to remove the existing structures. Once the transmission lines are removed, the floodplain restoration work will continue in the Deer Creek floodplain.
Photo Credit: McKenzie Watershed Council
4200 Roosevelt Blvd.
Eugene, OR 97402
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