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Currin Substation: End of year update
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EWEB Recognized with Excellence in Communications Awards from American Public Power Association
We are proud to have been recognized with two Excellence in Public Power Communications Awards for 2023 from the American Public Power Association (APPA).Find Out More
EWEB now offering a Smart Thermostat rebate program
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Your EWEB Rates at Work: Investing Today for a Resilient Tomorrow
For more than a century, EWEB has planned, built, and maintained the systems that deliver safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible power and water to Eugene homes and businesses.Find Out More
Have an energy efficient and water conscious holiday season
The holiday season is officially upon us. Whether you are celebrating a special holiday or just sharing a meal with close friends and family, hosting can cause some unexpected energy and water usage increases – resulting in a higher utility bill. We’ve prepared some tips on how you can save energy and water this holiday season.Find Out More
River Road Substation returns to service after infrastructure upgrades
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EWEB’s water infrastructure projects designed for reliability during major disasters
As communities nationwide Imagine a Day Without Water, EWEB strives to ensure such a day never happens.Find Out More
The importance of managed electric vehicle charging explained
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EWEB lead annual "Spill Drill"
EWEB coordinates drill as part of protecting Eugene’s drinking waterFind Out More
EWEB seeks public input on electric vehicle, demand response standards
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Salmon Return to Finn Rock Reach
Finn Rock Reach and other restoration projects throughout the Middle McKenzie provide conditions to help young fish survive to adulthood.Find Out More
EWEB programs reflect community values
EWEB is here to serve our customer-owners and provides programs that reflect the values of our community.Find Out More
EWEB Prepares for the Annual Observance of "Imagine a Day Without Water"
Water infrastructure is essential, invaluable, and in need of continuous investment. Read how EWEB's Staff and Board of Commissioners are working to safeguard Eugene's water future.Find Out More
Where is EWEB in planning our future electricity supply?
In August, we reached a milestone: EWEB’s five-member elected Board of Commissioners approved an action plan to guide our energy supply choices for the next 2-3 years. How did we get here?Find Out More
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Deer Creek Habitat Enhancement Project Underway
August 24, 2020
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