Bethel neighbors boost emergency preparedness during Emergency Water Station event
Staff gave out about 300 emergency water containers to enthusiastic community members eager to learn more about the water station.Find Out More
How does EWEB recover the costs of serving customers
Here’s an overview of the three primary ways EWEB recovers the costs of serving customers and generates the funds needed to keep the power on and the water flowing.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet our servant leader and maker of tough decisions
Karen Kelley, Chief Operations Officer at EWEB, describes herself as a "servant leader," offering support and mentoring to four division managers at EWEB.Find Out More
Water conservation tips for a drought-stricken Lane County
It's a simple equation: Hot + Dry = Drought. Here's 10 tips to play your part in a drought-resilient community.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet the water quality specialist who ensures the safety of Eugene's drinking water
Brenda Casarez began working at EWEB in 2009, collecting samples from all over the water system testing for different contaminants.Find Out More
EWEB will close College Hill Reservoir site for Fourth of July
EWEB will continue the annual closure of its College Hill Reservoir over the Fourth of July holiday. For the past several years, EWEB has restricted access to the reservoir surface around the Fourth of July to ensure people do not set off fireworks which can damage the roof and potentially impact drinking water quality.Find Out More
EWEB, Partners Receive $7.5M Grant from NOAA
EWEB, McKenzie Watershed Council, McKenzie River Trust and the U.S. Forest Service are working to improve major tributary for water quality, wildfire resiliency and fish habitat.Find Out More
EWEB begins major water pipeline upgrades
This summer, EWEB is launching several construction water pipeline projects to enhance the reliability and earthquake resiliency of drinking water service for Eugene residents.Find Out More
EWEB Education Programs Invest in Eugene’s Future
Learn some of the many ways EWEB customers support local schools and help inspire kids to explore the wonders of watershed health and clean energy resources.Find Out More
Every Week is Infrastructure Week
National Infrastructure Week (May 14-20) may be a politically charged quip on the national stage, but for EWEB, the urgency and importance of infrastructure is no joke.Find Out More
State of the McKenzie Watershed
Millions of dollars of investment have prevented the major harm from the Holiday Farm Fire, EWEB’s annual State of the Watershed Report finds.Find Out More
EWEB drinking water meets federal and state health standards again
EWEB employs multiple methods of safeguarding drinking water, from the source to the tap.Find Out More
EWEB to replace aging College Hill Reservoir with new earthquake-proof storage tanks
Old reservoir leaks, threatening water quality, and will fail when a major earthquake strikes.Find Out More
Water use in summer more than twice as high as winter
EWEB customers use more than twice as much water in the hot, dry summer months, compared to the cold, rainy winter months. The higher summer water use can almost assuredly be attributed to customers watering their lawns and gardens.Find Out More
New water treatment trailer improves EWEB’s emergency response abilities
The Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) is expanding its capacity to provide water to customers in case of an emergency.Find Out More
- Show More
EWEB conducts “spill drill” on the Willamette River
October 13, 2022
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.
Emergency responders gathered at Whitely Landing in North Eugene on a sunny morning.
“Alright, hey, my name’s David Donahue. I’m an Environmental Specialist with EWEB. I think I know most of you but some new faces which is awesome to see. We actually have a great day. Hopefully, no smoke. But it should be good time to be out on the water.” Donahue spoke to the group before the exercise got underway.
The practice scenario for the drill was that used oil had spilled into the Willamette upstream of the Whitely Landing from the I-105 bridge.
“Oil spills on fast-moving rivers or water is really a complex thing to try to stop and to clean up,” said Karl Morgenstern, EWEB’s water restoration program manager.
Morgenstern launched the spill drill program around 2003 and has participated in annual spill drills ever since. He says the team uses ropes, pullies, and containment booms to direct the oil to an area where it can be collected. Then a skimmer is used to remove as much oil as possible.
“It’s a complicated response. We do this once a year and even then, you’re kind of relearning what you did last year,” said Morgenstern. “And the hope is that if there’s a spill in the year in between our drills that when we come together, we’re so much better and know what we’re doing together.”
The organizations that participated form a coalition called the McKenzie Watershed Emergency Response System. The group includes EWEB, the Army Corps of Engineers, Eugene Springfield Fire and EMS, Lane County Sheriff, McKenzie Fire & Rescue, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, among others.
Nancy Toth with EWEB’s Source Water Protection said it’s really important to be able to respond if hazardous material get into the river.
“Particularly if it’s above our drinking water intake,” Toth said. “So, we do this so we wouldn’t have to shut down our drinking water intake potentially if there was a spill. But we certainly have the capability to do that if needed.”
The drill took place downstream of EWEB’s intake on the McKenzie River. There are downstream communities that rely on the Willamette River as a drinking water source, including Corvallis, Sherwood, and Wilsonville EWEB is also planning to build a second water treatment plant on the Willamette River so that we’re not dependent on a single source of drinking water for our 200,000 customers.
Multiple agencies working together on disaster response can make a big difference in a real-time situation. Morgenstern said this type of multi-agency oil spill drill is unique in Oregon.
“This just doesn’t happen to be honest.” Morgenstern said.
After the spill drill was over, EWEB's David Donahue said he thought it was a big success.
"We enjoyed a strong sense of teamwork and support throughout the exercise. We were also fortunate to have favorable weather, low river flows and good site access," said Donahue. "Although I’m hopeful we never have to face a major spill in a local waterway, I’m also grateful we have opportunities such as these to build relationships with other stakeholders, develop skills and test equipment in the field."