Dam leak turns Bend’s Mirror Pond into mudflat

Repairs to begin in early November

Stephen Hamway | The Bulletin @Shamway1 View stories and bio

Bend residents visiting Mirror Pond recently saw exposed berms and portions of the bank normally covered by water, after a small leak in the wooden paneling on Newport Avenue Dam caused water levels at Mirror Pond to drop by 2 feet over the last several days.

Bob Gravely, spokesman for Pacific Power, which manages the dam, said workers discovered the leak Wednesday and are planning to repair it, but may not be able to get heavy equipment in place and start work until early November.

“We think it will take a few weeks to get everything in order,” Gravely said.

The dam, which was built more than a century ago to bring hydroelectric power to Central Oregon, has been increasingly prone to leaks in recent years. Gravely said Pacific Power placed wooden paneling over a defunct outlet in the dam about 25 years ago, but the structure has degraded over time. He noted that this was the fourth leak in the dam since 2008, though this one is less severe than previous leaks.

In prior instances, the utility has had success driving sheet pile — pieces of interlocking steel sheets — into the river bed on the upstream side of the wooden panels, which Gravely said keeps the water from reaching the leaking sheet. After this round of construction, Gravely said the entire face of the dam will be reinforced by the metal sheets, which the utility hopes will prevent future leaks.

“This will allow us to maintain the pond for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The leak was compounded by lower-than-normal water levels throughout the Upper Deschutes due to the end of irrigation season. Kate Fitzpatrick, program director for the Deschutes River Conservancy, said the amount of water in the river normally drops during the start of October, when irrigation districts begin ramping down the water they divert for farmers.

Since the end of September, the amount of water released from Wickiup Reservoir has dropped from 820 cubic feet per second to 105 on Monday, an 87 percent decline, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Gravely said the utility can normally regulate how much water stays in Mirror Pond, but having a hole in the dam affects its ability to do so.

Gravely said he doesn’t expect the leak to get worse, but noted that water levels could be as far as 4 feet below normal before the utility is able to repair the dam.

However, Gravely emphasized that the dropping water levels don’t pose a danger to the public, and added that the decline should be gradual enough to keep the fish in the pond from being stranded.

Mirror Pond collects sediment that flows in from the Deschutes River, which has prompted questions about how best to pay for the dredging of the pond. After a fundraising effort by Mirror Pond Solutions, a company formed in 2013 by local businessmen Bill Smith and Todd Taylor, fell short of its target, representatives from the company, the city of Bend and the Bend Park & Recreation District have met several times to discuss funding options.

Gravely said the dam construction will take about a month once it begins, and shouldn’t affect the timeline of the proposed dredging effort.

https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/6600505-151/dam-leak-causes-water-at-mirror-pond-to

Bend Park district mulls funding for dredging Mirror Pond

District board supports franchise fee, rejects fee for rivergoers

Stephen Hamway | The Bulletin

Funding a plan to remove silt from Bend’s iconic Mirror Pond may be getting less murky.

During a meeting Tuesday evening, the Bend Park & Recreation District’s board of directors discussed options for funding the removal of sediment from the pond, starting with a list of 15 possible options and narrowing it down to three that the board would support.

In particular, the board supported letting the city of Bend charge Pacific Power and Light, the utility that manages Newport Avenue Dam at the edge of Mirror Pond, with a fee that could be passed down to ratepayers.

The board also expressed near-universal dismissal of a proposal, floated during a joint committee earlier this year, to charge people a small fee to use the Deschutes River.

“Philosophically, I wouldn’t want to charge people to use the river,” said Lauren Sprang, park board member.

Mirror Pond was last dredged in 1984, and the pond collects sediment from the Deschutes River and the Newport Avenue Dam. Last year, Mirror Pond Solutions, formed in 2013 by local businessmen Bill Smith and Todd Taylor, began organizing community fundraising efforts to fund efforts to remove silt from the pond, according to documents from the park district. However, those efforts raised only about $320,000 of the estimated $6.7 million required to remove the sediment. Because of that, the City Council and the park district are looking at ways to fund the rest.

Over the summer, a collection of park district board members, Bend city councilors and representatives from Mirror Pond Solutions met twice privately to come up with approaches to the funding.

The ideas were evaluated according to their legality, their ability to attract funding sources, how long each would take to pay for the project and their ability to pay for future dredging projects.

In addition to the fee charged to the utility, the board was open to seeking additional donations and having the city or park district contribute money from their respective general funds, though several board members were uncomfortable with pulling too much from the district’s general fund.

“Personally, I’m really reluctant to contribute general-­fund dollars,” said Nathan Hovekamp, park board member.

For the park district, the dredging is just a portion of a larger effort to improve Mirror Pond and preserve it for future generations. Horton said other projects include preserving crumbling river banks and connecting the area to the rest of the Deschutes River Trail, which the district estimates will cost an additional $6.5 million.

The board also opted to have two members join a public subcommittee, joining with several city councilors to move forward on a solution for dredging the pond.

—Reporter: 541-617-7818, shamway@bendbulletin.com

https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/6568336-151/park-district-mulls-funding-for-dredging-mirror-pond


Mirror Pond dredging could cost Pacific Power customers, river floaters

Subcommittee will discuss options for raising $6.7 million

Julia Shumway @jmshumway | The Bulletin

A new City Council subcommittee will consider ways to pay for dredging Mirror Pond that could mean higher utility bills for Bend residents or fees for people floating the Deschutes River.

Six of Bend’s seven city councilors voted Wednesday to form a subcommittee to discuss paying to remove silt from the pond, and the Bend Park & Recreation District plans to vote Oct. 2 on whether it will do the same. It’s the latest movement in what’s been more than a yearlong effort from Mirror Pond Solutions, the private group that owns the land under the pond, to get the city, park district and Pacific Power and Light to help foot the $6.7 million bill to remove three decades worth of accumulated silt from the pond.

Mayor Casey Roats and city Councilors Bruce Abernethy and Bill Moseley will serve on the subcommittee, and they’ll look at 12 options. But they plan to most seriously discuss four options: charging Pacific Power a franchise fee that would be passed down to ratepayers, instituting a park user fee, having the city or park district contribute money from their general funds and seeking more private donations.

“My gut sense is it’s going to be some kind of a hybrid mix,” Abernethy said.

The new group’s meetings will be open to the public and press, unlike two meetings held this summer by several councilors, park board members, City Manager Eric King, park district Executive Director Don Horton and representatives from Mirror Pond Solutions. City legal staff said those discussions, which resulted in the list of funding options the new group will consider, could remain closed because no formal decisions or recommendations came from the meetings.

Every funding option should be discussed and vetted, Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell said.

“We need to be smart about how we move through this financially with the city,” she said.

Two local businessmen — Old Mill District developer Bill Smith and Taylor Northwest construction company owner Todd Taylor — formed Mirror Pond Solutions a few years ago, after the family that had owned the land under the pond gave it to them. They had the permits required to start removing 75,000 cubic yards of silt from the pond this summer, but private donations have raised only about $320,000.

Mirror Pond Solutions has paid $434,000 for permits, but that total is not counted in the $6.7 million dredging estimate.

Other entities haven’t been eager to contribute. The city and park district have their own upcoming costly projects in the area: a $6.5 million park project to repair crumbling riverbanks and connect the Deschutes River Trail, and an estimated $11.5 million that the city will have to spend to replace or update 13 stormwater outfalls and stop debris from entering the pond through the city’s stormwater system.

City Councilor Barb Campbell, who opposed forming the subcommittee, said it doesn’t make sense for the city to pay for a project in a park when it has its own infrastructure projects to fund.

“We’re talking about spending city of Bend money dredging a pond that is in the middle of a park in a city that has a separate parks district,” Campbell said.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/bend/6534910-151/mirror-pond-dredging-could-cost-pacific-power-customers

Another Mirror Pond ballot measure is in the works

Measure would require city of Bend to get permits before acquiring dam

By Scott Hammers | The Bulletin

A measure that would limit the city of Bend’s ability to acquire the Mirror Pond dam could be headed for the November ballot.

Spencer Dahl, who’s been active in the various committees and public meetings surrounding the future of Mirror Pond, submitted the paperwork to begin collecting signatures for the measure a little over a week ago. If 15 percent of registered voters within the city sign his petitions by Aug. 6, it will go before voters in the November election.

Dahl’s measure would prohibit the city from taking ownership or control of the dam unless it has already obtained one of two permits: the federal permit needed to operate the dam as an updated hydroelectric generation facility, or the state water right permit to operate it as a nongenerating dam.

The idea of the city or the Bend Park & Recreation District acquiring the dam that creates Mirror Pond has gained traction since December, when dam owner Pacifi­Corp announced it was no longer interested in operating the dam long term. The utility has since repaired a hole in the dam that prompted the announcement, but is continuing to discuss the possible transfer of the dam with officials from the city and the park district.

Dahl said his ballot measure is an attempt to focus the discussion on what he believes is the central issue: Should the Mirror Pond dam continue to be a hydroelectric facility or not? He said his research suggests it’s unlikely the state would grant the water rights needed for the dam to remain if it’s not generating electricity, and if that’s the case, many of the ideas now up for discussion may be pointless.

“If we’re spending money on coming up with all these plans and ideas that may or may not happen without this water right, why don’t we focus on getting this water right first?” Dahl said. “It’s absolutely critical — without the water right, all these plans are a waste of time and money.”

Dahl said he’s personally open to a variety of options for Mirror Pond and the dam, though he’s fairly certain the current dam will eventually come out. He said there’s no need to rush a decision: The recently repaired leak washed away much of the sediment that had accumulated on the floor of the pond, and with the repairs, the dam could have another 10 to 20 years as a viable power generation facility.

“I think there’s a great sense of false urgency in the whole process,” he said. “From the beginning: ‘Mirror Pond’s going to disappear if we don’t do this right away.’ They’ve been saying that for the last 10 years.”

Dahl’s measure is distinct from two Mirror Pond ballot measures being advanced by Foster Fell. Fell’s proposed ballot measures would bar the city and the park district from spending public funds on any improvements at the Mirror Pond or the dam without providing for fish passages and habitat restoration.

https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/2003373-151/another-mirror-pond-ballot-measure-is-in-the

Editorial: Mirror Pond debate does not need another ballot measure

Deciding Mirror Pond’s future has been corked by secrecy and polls with no scientific basis. It hasn’t helped that there are already two ballot measures that seek to compel removal of the dam before many of the questions about the dam’s future are answered.

But this week, we learned a third ballot measure may be added to the muddy cocktail. The new measure seems to have been born of reasonable concerns. It’s hard to see how it’s going to help things.

The new measure would require that before the city of Bend could take ownership or control of the Mirror Pond Dam it must get the necessary permits lined up. Either it gets the necessary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate a hydroelectric dam or it gets a permit from the state to preserve Mirror Pond with a nonhydroelectric dam.

Spencer Dahl, who has been active in the Old Bend Neighborhood Association and has run various media enterprises in Bend, is the author of the new measure. Dahl told us he is trying to ensure the focus in the debate over the pond is in the right place. He sees a false sense of urgency to do something about Mirror Pond. And he is concerned that with so much pressure to do something, the city might do the wrong something — such as take on the responsibility and liability of the dam without getting the proper permits.

He originally considered two ballot measures, one for the city and one for the park district. He says he talked to city officials about the issue and did not get a satisfactory response. When he spoke with park district officials, they gave him assurances that they would not do something so stupid as to take on the dam without getting permits lined up. So Dahl decided only a ballot measure constraining the city would be necessary.

The question now is if voters in Bend should try to help him gather the 7,000 or so signatures needed to put his effort on the ballot or consider voting for it.

We haven’t talked to every city councilor, but we can’t imagine they would vote to take control of the dam without having lined up the proper permits. So for that reason alone, passing this ballot measure is not important.

https://www.bendbulletin.com/opinion/2000659-151/editorial-mirror-pond-debate-does-not-need-another

Editorial: Mirror Pond dam report shouldn’t be secret

The audacity is stunning: Taxpayers spent $23,500 for an independent study of the Mirror Pond dam, but they can’t see the results without permission from PacifiCorp, the private company that owns the dam.

That’s because Bend Park & Recreation District Executive Director Don Horton and Mirror Pond Project Manager Jim Figurski signed a nondisclosure agreement they say gives the utility company the right to decide if the report can be released.

According to an email from PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely, the nondisclosure agreement was necessary because the company gave “information about vendors, contracts, employee salaries and other information that is typically considered commercially sensitive by any business.” They want to review the report and redact any such information before it is released. The public will never know just what was redacted and whether its removal was appropriate.

Bend City Councilors Mark Capell and Victor Chudowsky are properly critical of the situation. Both are members of the Mirror Pond committee charged with determining the pond’s future. We agree with their assertion that the public needs to see the full report so it can make a good decision, and with Capell’s position that there’s no reason for the report to contain any proprietary information.

Horton has additionally said the report is not complete, but that’s no reason for secrecy. Draft reports are public record every bit as much as final versions.

The painful, drawn-out process of resolving the future of Mirror Pond has been anything but transparent. When the latest committee was formed, it tried to hold its meetings in secret, refusing admission to a Bulletin editorial writer. Earlier, results of an online survey were presented as if they reflected the will of the community when in fact only a small segment of people responded.

PacifiCorp has financial obligations to its owners that may well be at odds with the community’s interests. It’s not a criticism of either side to acknowledge their unavoidable adversarial positions. Giving the private side veto power over what the public can know is unacceptable, no matter how good the intentions.

https://www.bendbulletin.com/opinion/editorials/1994007-151/editorial-mirror-pond-dam-report-shouldnt-be-secret

Dam inspection report under wraps

Bend park officials say PacifiCorp to decide on disclosure

By Hillary Borrud | The Bulletin

Bend Park & Recreation District officials say they will let the utility company that owns Mirror Pond dam decide whether the public gets to see a taxpayer-funded inspection report on the structure .

At least on the surface, that decision appears to be at odds with how city councilors and utility company officials want to proceed. In fact, each party involved has a different idea on how the park district should handle the report. A PacifiCorp spokesman said the decision on whether to release the report is up to the park district, while two city councilors involved in the process said on Monday the report is part of an important community discussion and should be released to the public. PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said the utility would like to see the report and possibly redact sections of it before the public would see it.

The park district, a government agency that is separate from the city of Bend, hired Phoenix, Ariz.-based contractor Gannett Fleming Inc. to inspect the dam on the Deschutes River last month and provide an independent opinion of its condition. The inspection is supposed to provide crucial information on future dam maintenance costs for city councilors and park district officials, who are negotiating to acquire the dam from owner PacifiCorp.

The park district will pay $23,500 for the inspection and report, Mirror Pond Project Manager Jim Figurski wrote in a recent email. However, Figurski and park district Executive Director Don Horton wrote in emails that because they signed a nondisclosure agreement with PacifiCorp, the utility has the legal right to decide whether the district can release the report. Figurski and Horton declined to provide a copy of the report to The Bulletin without permission from PacifiCorp.

City Councilor Mark Capell said on Monday that because this is an independent inspection report on the dam, it should not contain any of PacifiCorp’s proprietary information. Capell and City Councilor Victor Chudowsky are both members of the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee, a group that includes park board members and citizens and is tasked with deciding the future of Mirror Pond.

“In my opinion, the community needs the information to make a good decision,” Capell said. “So it’s information that needs to be released.”

Chudowsky agreed. “I think the main thing is the community needs to know whether we’re taking over an asset or a liability, and how big that asset or liability is,” Chudowsky said. “It’s critical information, absolutely critical.”

Last fall, the century-old dam sprang a leak and after PacifiCorp conducted its own inspection, company officials said repairs at the hydroelectric project would be too costly to pencil out for their ratepayers. It was the third leak in five years at the dam. Then in February, the utility company changed course and agreed to repair the leak. A PacifiCorp spokesman said in February that the utility estimated the repairs would cost $250,000.

Gannett Fleming has written a report on its inspection of the dam. However, Horton wrote in an email that in his opinion, the inspection report is not yet complete. “I reviewed it late last week and will be asking the consultants to clarify some of their findings,” Horton wrote in the April 7 email. Horton did not say what he asked the consultants to clarify .

The nondisclosure agreement, which names the park district as a potential purchaser of the dam and the city of Bend as an interested party, states that documents created with confidential information from PacifiCorp can only be released with the utility’s consent. It’s unclear at this point whether there is any confidential information from PacifiCorp in the inspection report.

Gravely confirmed last week that the utility wants to see the report before the public does.

“I think ultimately they own the report, so it will be their decision,” Gravely said of the park district. However, he said, the utility company does want to review the park district’s report before it is released to the public and might ask the district to redact sections of it.

“I think the only thing we would want to do first is to make sure there’s no commercially sensitive, confidential information that was provided under the nondisclosure agreement,” Gravely said. “We wouldn’t have a problem with the report itself being released and that would ultimately be their decision.”

Gravely said PacifiCorp employees have not yet seen the report, so he did not know what type of information the utility would consider to be commercially sensitive and want to redact.

Gravely said PacifiCorp executives have not met with local officials since December to negotiate the possible transfer of dam ownership because officials were waiting to learn the findings of the inspection.

https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/1967812-151/dam-inspection-report-under-wraps

Repairs to Bend’s Mirror Pond dam complete

Repairs to Bend’s Mirror Pond dam complete

By Scott Hammers | The Bulletin

PacifiCorp has completed repairs to the Mirror Pond dam, a spokesman said Wednesday, and believes water levels in the pond should return to normal this summer.

The recent repairs were prompted by a leak in the dam that emerged in early October. Within days of the discovery of the leak — described as a basketball-sized hole below the normal waterline — Mirror Pond began dropping, exposing wide mudflats that extended through Drake Park and upstream of the Galveston Avenue Bridge.

PacifiCorp, the owner of the dam, inspected the damage and concluded the century-old dam was too damaged to warrant further repairs. In late November, the company announced it was ready to decommission it or transfer it to another entity.

In February, the utility reversed course and agreed to repair the dam.

Spokesman Bob Gravely said Wednesday that crews completed nearly all of their work Friday, driving large pieces of metal sheeting into the bedrock beneath the upstream side of the dam. Gravely said because the equipment and crews were available, PacifiCorp also added sheeting to another two of the 13 wood and rock “bays” that make up the spillway visible from the Newport Avenue Bridge.

During last fall’s inspection, the two bays added to the repair operation were found to be holding water but in danger of failing, Gravely said. Six of the 13 bays in the spillway have now been repaired using the same technique in recent years. Gravely said discussions between PacifiCorp and the Bend Park & Recreation District about the district’s possible acquisition of the dam have been temporarily suspended until the district’s inspection report is complete.

“On hold would be the wrong word, but once the Parks Department decided to do its own inspection, I think both sides agreed it would make sense to wait until both sides had their own sets of numbers and projections before continuing the talks,” he said.

Gravely said PacifiCorp repaired the dam even though officials believe the new leak was allowing too little water through to affect the level of the pond once the Deschutes River returns to full summer flows. Water running through smaller leaks in the dam tends to displace the timbers and rock inside, he said, creating larger leaks if not repaired.

“Anything I guess could still happen, but this will significantly increase the likelihood that the dam will maintain the water levels for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Source: https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/1928314-151/repairs-to-bends-mirror-pond-dam-complete

Central Oregon City Club hears Mirror Pond options

Repairs to leaking Bend dam underway

By Scott Hammers | The Bulletin

Three alternative solutions for the future of Mirror Pond were presented Thursday at a meeting of the City Club of Central Oregon.

The City Club invited a panel to make the case for the three possibilities under consideration by the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee, a group made up of representatives of the city of Bend, the Bend Park & Recreation District and the general public.

Formed last fall primarily to look into what should be done about silt accumulating in Mirror Pond, the group’s focus has shifted with the emergence of a leak in the Mirror Pond dam, and the announcement by PacifiCorp that it is no longer economically feasible to use the dam for power generation.

Separately, PacifiCorp began repairing the leak Thursday, a process spokesman Bob Gravely said should be complete by Tuesday.

At the City Club event, Bend City Councilor and ad hoc committee member Victor Chudowsky said he and the other members of the council have committed to preserving Mirror Pond but are committed to keeping the current dam only if viable. David Blair argued for a hybrid alternative that would maintain the level of the pond, while replacing the dam with a new structure. Ryan Houston of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council described the ecological benefits of dam removal and a free-flowing river.

Scott Wallace, chairman of the Bend Park & Recreation District Board and the Mirror Pond Ad Hoc Committee, provided a brief overview of the construction of the dam and an update on the status of an independent inspection of the dam commissioned by the two groups. He said the inspection report should be complete by early April and should include some estimates of what it would cost to repair and maintain the dam.

Chudowsky recalled how he first discovered Bend while on vacation years ago and spotted a large group of people swimming in the river near the Galveston Bridge. Mirror Pond may be an icon, he said, but it’s not just a pretty view — it’s something people use, he said, with an estimated 90,000 floaters and paddlers using the river between the Old Mill District and Drake Park each summer.

Chudowsky said removing the dam would narrow the river and quicken the current, drastically altering how locals enjoy the river today.

“Let’s remember those tens of thousands of floaters, many of them are young people, teenagers,” he said. “They don’t vote, they’re not going online to fill out questionnaires, they’re not at the City Club — they haven’t been a part of this conversation.”

Chudowsky said the city and the park district will need to carefully assess the inspection report to make sure they’re not assuming a massive liability if they choose to move ahead with acquiring the dam from PacifiCorp.

Houston said the case for removing the dam for environmental reasons isn’t particularly strong. Of the 10 dams along the Deschutes River from its source in the Cascades to the Columbia River, the Mirror Pond dam would probably rank around eighth in terms of its adverse effect on the health of the river.

The choices facing the community on Mirror Pond are really more about economics than anything else, Houston said. For 100 years, Bend residents have enjoyed the benefits of the pond created by the dam without being asked to pay for it, he said. With PacifiCorp ready to give up on the dam, residents need to decide whether preserving the pond is worth it — and how much they’re willing to pay.

With a price tag estimated at around $7 million, removing the dam would be cheaper than other alternatives that would require ongoing maintenance, Houston said, but it would radically alter the pond without providing significant environmental benefit.

“It’s not where I would put my first $7 million, if I had $7 million to spend on river restoration on the Deschutes,” he said.

Blair said although the hybrid alternative removes the dam, the area from Drake Park upstream wouldn’t have to look like it did this winter, when the combination of low water and the leak in the dam exposed wide mud flats on both shores.

The proposal outlined by Blair would include the removal of the dam and the construction of a dam-like structure a few hundred yards upstream that would allow floaters and paddlers to pass through. Downstream, the river channel could be sculpted, possibly with a series of dropping pools, he said, while upstream, a series of sediment traps could be built to allow for easier removal of silt.

Blair said it’s been difficult to draw up a firm estimate of what the hybrid option would cost. He encouraged the park district and the ad hoc committee to consider it a serious alternative and proceed with the studies needed to compare it side-by-side with preserving the dam.

Much of the discussion on how to proceed with Mirror Pond has been bogged down with talk of water rights and other permitting issues that appear to make some alternatives impossible, Blair said. As any of the alternatives under consideration would probably require intervention by the state Legislature, the community should instead focus on what it wants, he said, and stop being “intimidated” by supposed regulatory hurdles.

“We will create a great place, no matter what,” he said.

https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/1904600-151/city-club-hears-options-for-mirror-pond

Utility to fix Bend’s Mirror Pond dam

PacifiCorp announced on Tuesday that it will repair the leak in Mirror Pond dam in April, in time for people to enjoy higher water levels on the Deschutes River this summer.

One of the wooden panels in the dam began leaking in October, and since then, the water level has sunk, leaving visible the mud flats that have been building up in the Mirror Pond section of the river. The utility stopped generating power at the dam after it discovered the leak, and executives have been meeting with a Bend city councilor and the executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District to discuss the possibility of transferring ownership of the dam to a government agency.

PacifiCorp plans to install a steel sheet piling upstream of the leaking panel, according to a news release from the utility.

Once the dam is repaired, PacifiCorp will again begin generating electricity at the dam, Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources, said in the release.

Tallman also said it is possible Mirror Pond would have filled up anyway this summer, when more water will be released from Wickiup Reservoir.

In December, PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely said it would not be cost effective to repair the dam because it produced a meager amount of electricity. On Tuesday, Gravely said utility executives decided to repair the dam for different reasons.

Gravely said PacifiCorp hopes that repairing the dam will make it easier for the utility and local officials to reach an agreement to transfer the dam to a local government agency. “We don’t intend to generate (electricity) long-term, so fixing one leak for that purpose wouldn’t make sense.”

Gravely said PacifiCorp estimates that fixing the leak will cost $250,000.

Park district Executive Director Don Horton recently called for PacifiCorp to repair the dam to prevent further damage to the structure and ensure the river will be safe for boaters and others recreating on the river this summer.

Regarding PacifiCorp’s announcement, Horton said, “It shows that PacifiCorp has been listening to the community’s needs and trying to do their part in this negotiation process that we’re going through, to figure out a long-term solution to Mirror Pond and the dam.”

PacifiCorp also met privately on Tuesday afternoon with City Councilor Mark Capell and Horton to continue negotiating a possible transfer of ownership of the dam. Capell and Horton are members of the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee tasked with deciding the future of the pond. They were joined in the negotiating session by Ned Dempsey, a citizen member of the committee. Dempsey is a civil engineer who owns a home across from Drake Park.

The committee is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. today to discuss a proposal from committee member and park board Chairman Scott Wallace to appoint Dempsey to the small group that is meeting with PacifiCorp. However, Horton said Tuesday that Wallace went ahead and appointed Dempsey without waiting for a public meeting.

Capell said that during the meeting Tuesday, Bend officials and PacifiCorp discussed proposals from firms that want to conduct an independent inspection of the dam on behalf of the park district. Capell had to leave the meeting during discussion of a proposal from HDR, a large engineering firm where Capell’s brother Paul Capell works. Capell has said PacifiCorp should repair the Mirror Pond dam and give it to the community, and on Tuesday, he said the announcement that the utility will repair the dam does not mean it will be worth more. “It’s not going to make them any money, for sure,” Capell said. Nonetheless, Capell said the utility’s decision to fix the leak is a positive development. “I thought that was an outstanding step forward by (PacifiCorp),” Capell said.