Mirror Pond Options

Natural Succession: A Management alternative for Mirror Pond if the current Dredge proposal is not implemented.

In an earlier communication I presented my arguments against public funding of the proposed dredging of Mirror Pond. In this communication I will present one perspective on the future of the pond if dredging is not implemented. It can be termed management for natural succession. Part II of this communication will illustrate a possible integrated strategy with fish passage for the pond based on natural succession.

I) Natural Succession.  What is this? In a river that has been dredged, predictable changes follow. Initially there is rapid accumulation of sediment in areas of slowing current where the sediment carrying capacity of the flowing river drops (areas that were dredged). Over years this accumulation slows to the point of minimal further sediment accumulation while channels of more rapid current become defined which carry sediment downstream. These changes occur more and more slowly until the river finds a natural balance. As this occurs aquatic and riparian vegetation finds a footing, insects and other aquatic organisms proliferate, water quality improves and fish and wildlife prosper. These beneficial developments can be accelerated by judicious plantings. This option requires minimal funding and does not require private land owner’s permission; it is simply letting nature take its course as it has for 35 years since the last dredging in 1984.

Some history. The management option of allowing Mirror Pond to find stability through the natural process of succession has received minimal attention in the many studies, discussions, ad hoc committees, Bend Parks and Rec and City Council proceedings dating back to the early 1980s. Clearly there has been an embedded bias for dredging based management strategies.

Arguably however the successional option for managing Mirror Pond is very viable. Let us consider that further.

A current perspective. Consider first the Old Mill log pond above Colorado established by a dam built in 1915. What has happened over the subsequent 103 years? Google Earth photos of 7/27/2018 are revealing. What we see are small wetlands just above the dam (Old Mill log pond 1), and small areas of riparian vegetation above that (Old Mill log pond 2). Siltation has created stable shallow areas upstream. There is a clean river with riparian vegetation. Google Earth photos show large numbers of inner tubers floating here in bliss (Old Mill log pond 3). Is this not a window into a future Mirror Pond? If we allow Mirror Pond to evolve as the Old Mill log pond has (the successional process), what could we expect?

We are 35 years into successional evolution since the last dredging in 1984. Google Earth photos provide further insight. Since 2003 we have what appear to be stable shallow areas of the river and defined primary flow channels (see dated photos). Nor can it be argued that we are at imminent risk of losing the “iconic” pond views as evidenced by photos from January 12, 2019; no mud banks are seen even at the low winter pool levels. It would be reassuring to have quantitative measures as to future sedimentation. In fact, a report to the Mirror Pond management Committee on 4/30/2013 suggests we are nearly at a stable state for sedimentation in the pond. But experts on this caution against predictions given complexities of sedimentation in any given place and time. Empirical observation as I have presented seems to be the final arbiter.

Succession to date suggests we will have a pond view of blue water and historic iconic views without dredging, although it might not match historic views pixel for pixel. If some areas of pond bottom emerge above normal water levels, they can be vegetated with attractive wetland plantings. As nature unfolds, we can tweak pond characteristics if needed with modest interventions. While the “designer dredge” concept captured public support in the public proceedings of 2013-2015, technical issues prevented further implementation of that as conceived. However, the natural succession management strategy allows for adaptive management as we experience empirically the evolution of the pond. Features of the creative thinking behind the “designer dredge” concept could well be implemented. That is an attractive option.

The new pond views could well be preferred by many to the historic view.

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The Old Mill log pond, 2018
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Google Earth photos show Mirror Pond has stable shallow areas and primary river channels over the past 16 years.

In conclusion, the management strategy of natural succession offers an attractive potential future management strategy for the pond. Why when or how did it get dropped from current considerations?

In point of fact, the currently proposed dredging is the B1 option considered in the Visioning Project; it was dropped for lack of support. And before that a panel of community leaders rejected the current proposal in 2013; a “replay of the 1984 dredge and walk away” intervention was rejected, but in fact that is what the current dredging proposal is. By what process did it now become the intervention of choice?

Recent Funding Committee and Council discussions have repeatedly brought up the idea that too many years have passed without resolution of the issue; that we need to act now to put this behind us. It is understandable that many are frustrated by discussions and studies spanning years. But it seems clear that actions were deferred on prior occasions because proposed actions did not find sufficient support, i.e. were flawed and inadequate. Rather than act out of frustration, inadequacies of prior evaluations and proposed solutions should be fully understood.

The public expects and should demand that appropriate evaluation continue until a solution is proposed that passes muster by stakeholders; the residents of Bend.  There is no justification for rushing into dredging at this time. There is plenty of time to get this right.

II) An Integrated Solution Alternative based on Natural Succession.

In the discussion of natural succession reference was made to prior public processes focused on the future of Mirror Pond. It seems clear that the public desires a more holistic, if you will, strategy for managing the pond.

Returning to the Mirror Pond Visioning Project, one component of the preferred alternative is in fact being implemented by Bend Parks and Rec. That is the trail and bank enhancement project, estimated to cost more than $6M when completed. It is considered a major component of the “Enhance Recreation” goal.

Next let’s consider fish passage, also one of the 5 community goals. The value of this hardly needs exposition; it is so widely accepted that there are laws mandating when dams must include fish passage provisions. That the Pacific Power dam has been exempted is a controversy beyond the scope of this essay. However, we can emphasize one point which is derived from the 1995 FERC Environmental Assessment referred to elsewhere.

In the 1995 FERC EA, fishery issues were addressed in detail. One aspect of that evaluation was economic. ODFW estimated that restoring passage at the dam would create a viable recreational fishery with economic value of ~ $700,000 annually (inflation adjusted to 2018 dollars). It was noted then that factors limiting the value of this option were the lack of passage at the North Union irrigation diversion just downstream from the PacifiCorp dam and the low summer flows of 35 cfs below the NUI dam. Those problems have been resolved. Passage has now been secured at the NUI dam and summer flows below the dam restored to 125-150 cfs. The recreational fishery downstream on the Middle Deschutes has rebounded nicely. Finally, as previously noted, fish passage will impact ~40 miles of river permanently. It seems clear that restoring fish passage at the dam is not only of idealistic ecologic value but also has a substantial return on investment for the community. By way of contrast it is noted that dredging will damage fish habitat and reduce water quality, while natural succession will create improved habitat for fish.

If the public is to invest in the Deschutes River in Bend, investments in dredging versus fish passage at the dam should be compared in both ecologic and economic terms. Based on the widely cited City of Bend 2015 survey, 77% would favor investments that promote a healthy river. Fish passage is a major component of that effort. While dredging impacts ~1 mile of river for 10-20 years only, fish passage impacts ~40 miles of river permanently.

With these points in mind we can now score this integrated solution for Mirror Pond against the community goals scorecard. The contrast with the Dredge scorecard ( see prior essay) is dramatic.

Based on the community goals of the Visioning project, the integrated strategy based on natural succession offers many advantages over the recent “dredge and walk away” proposal.

M. Tripp M.D. January 31, 2013


Future Management

Introduction. For a few years many of us thought the proposal to dredge Mirror Pond was going nowhere. That changed dramatically a few months ago when public access was gained to the ad hoc Funding Strategy Committee .

The public was presented with a proposal to fund a dredging plan for Mirror Pond via a franchise fee increase on Pacific Power. The plan for dredging was considered a closed issue not subject to further debate.

I offered my initial reactions to this in a Guest Column in the Bulletin

https://www.bendbulletin.com/opinion/6779394-151/guest-column-mirror-pond-time-for-a-public

and in a letter to the editor in The Source(Dec 19th)

https://www.bendsource.com/bend/ArticleArchives?category=2124614

In this communication I will expand on my arguments that the public should not fund Mirror Pond dredging.

At a fundamental level, public funding should require public support. Is public support justified for the current dredging proposal? I’ve used three approaches to answer the question.

1) A first approach is to consider investment opportunities within the City or within the Deschutes River.

What on this list would get your vote for a > $6.7M investment?

City:

  • Transportation
  • Affordable Housing
  • Urban renewal
  • Emergency Services
  • Sewer  hookups
  • Road repairs
  • Growth management issues

River:

  • Habitat restoration
  • Flow restoration Upper Deschutes
  • Fish passage

First to the City options; this list is obviously incomplete. Of note however, at the City Council goal setting exercise on January 16, 2019  as well as in the formal 2017-2019 Council Goals & Objectives no mention whatsoever of dredging Mirror Pond made the various lists

The dredge proposal fails to make a list of the highest value City opportunities.

For the river options consider first that the dredging proposal yields limited benefits for only 1 mile of river for only 10-20 years. By comparison fish passage yields benefits for ~40 miles of river permanently. Restoration of instream flows yields benefits for ~45-90 miles of river again permanently. And as a bonus the latter two have significant returns on investment.

The dredge proposal fails to make the list of the highest value river investment opportunities.

2) A second method for evaluation is based on previously established community goals for management strategies of the pond. These were a product of the Mirror Pond Visioning Project. https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/73804

That was a robust multiyear joint effort by the City of Bend and Bend Parks and Rec. It followed on a decade of meetings, studies and debate over sedimentation, and what to do about it in Mirror Pond. The Vision identified community goals for management of Mirror Pond. They are useful as a measure of public support of the current dredging proposal.

  • Goal one: No New Taxes for the General Public.
  • Goal two: Reduce or eliminate need to dredge.
  • Goal three: Provide fish passage and enhance habitat.
  • Goal four: Enhance recreation.
  • Goal five: Maintain Mirror Pond.

Sparing the reader a detailed discussion for now, the scorecard for the current dredging proposal can be summarized using the graphic of the Vision Project. The dredging proposal earns an outright negative or a qualified negative for each goal.

Figure 1. Scoring the dredging proposal by community goals

Based on community goals, the dredging  and financing proposal does not merit public funding. Discussion of cost and benefits follow.

3) A third approach is to weigh costs versus benefits. It is independent of the community goals framework.

First the costs. They are more than the publicized $6.7M estimate when analyzed by standard economic techniques that consider immediate costs, costs in the future, usually 30-50 years for public works of this nature, and opportunity costs:

  • Direct line item cost $6.7M
  • Recurrent Dredge Costs ?
    • 2019 cost estimates = 900% increase from 1984!
  • Opportunity costs:  Add Millions of $
    • Other City projects
    • Environmental projects

Costs then should be weighed against benefits:

  • Time limited: 80% of dredged sediment will accumulate again within 10 years, based on experience after the 1984 dredge as well as hydrologists’ predictions. To illustrate the meaning of this, consider that the current proposal targets increasing depth of the pond by ~5 feet. If 80% refill occurs by ten years, then the net gain from the investment after ten years is ~ 1 foot only.
  • Improvement in view is debatable: We still have the same open expanse of water 34 years post 1984 dredge with views as “iconic” as ever – see photos     below. What will dredging add to views now?
  • What % of Bend residents benefit from this expense? Actual enjoyment of dredging benefits (other than views), short lived as they are, will be a reality for only a small percent of Bend residents or visitors, e.g. west bank homeowners or kayakers.
  • The “stinking mud” fallacy. The proponents of the current proposal have frequently referred to relief from “stinking mud flats” or the “stinking pile of mud” as an indication for dredging. The mud story is entirely erroneous reasoning, as the bottom of the pond has only been exposed when the pool level has been infrequently dropped by Pacific Power dam operations for a few days or weeks over recent years. Not only is that not characteristic of the pond under normal current circumstances, dredging will only make a difference at best for a few years until sedimentation again reduces water depth.

Given the high costs relative to very skimpy benefits, the cost/benefit analysis again argues against public funding of the Dredge.

In conclusion, the current proposal to dredge Mirror Pond with financing through a Pacific Power franchise fee does not merit public funding based on any of three methods used to answer the question:

1) by the principle that public monies should be used for the best and highest value investment opportunities.

2) scoring against community goals

3) a basic cost/benefit analysis

It seems remarkable, even irresponsible, for the ad hoc Funding Strategy Committee and subsequent City Council and Bend Parks and Rec board to tell the public that this proposal should be acted upon and to boot with urgency. And the proposal on the table is for TaylorNW, one of the architects of the plan, to get an unbid contract for the dredging!

How did politics highjack science and prior public process conclusions, and proceed as if the public has no vote at this time?

It seems clear that the current proposal to dredge Mirror Pond and finance via a franchise fee should not receive public funding. A return to a transparent open public process is called for.

Michael Tripp M.D.                                                     January 28, 2019

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


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

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

Mirror Pond levels to drop next week for dam inspection

Bend, Ore. — PacifiCorp will lower the Mirror Pond water levels next week to facilitate another inspection of the dam.

The inspection will be conducted by Gannett Fleming, an engineering firm from Phoenix, for the Bend Parks and Recreation District as part of deliberations around the potential acquisition of the dam from PacifiCorp to maintain Mirror Pond after the facility is no longer used to generate electricity.

The drawdown will begin Tuesday morning and will continue gradually until about midday on Friday. The pond will be allowed to refill starting Friday afternoon and should be full again by the Sunday morning. The inspection itself is scheduled to occur on Thursday and Friday. According to BPRD employee Jim Figurski, for safety and security reasons, access to the inspection will be limited to BPRD personnel, the inspectors and PacifiCorp.

Because of increased flows compared to last October when the Mirror Pond was drawn down to facilitate a PacifiCorp inspection, water levels are not expected to drop as dramatically this time, although it will likely be noticeable.

As was the case during the October drawdown and refilling of Mirror Pond, PacifiCorp will monitor water quality and conduct fish surveys consistent with state regulatory requirements.

PacifiCorp inspected the dam on October 31 after a leak developed in one of the structure’s wooden panels. The inspection concluded that while the facility was safe, it would not be cost effective to rebuild the entire facility to generate power for current and future generations of customers across PacifiCorp’s six-state territory. Since then, the company and representatives of the Bend Parks and Recreation and the City of Bend have been in discussions around potentially transferring the dam to a local entity so the community can realize its vision for the future of Mirror Pond.

PacifiCorp has announced plans to install sheet pile reinforcement in front of the leaking panel. The reinforcement work is planned to take place in April, or earlier if permitting is complete and a contractor is in place. The company does not anticipate needing to lower Mirror Pond levels again for that procedure.

Source: Bend Bugle

 

Leaky Dam Could Affect Deschutes River Summer Recreation

A leak in the dam that forms Bend’s Mirror Pond could lead to unsafe water levels for people hoping to float the Deschutes River by inner tube this summer.

The leak is about the size of a basketball. It’s kept the dam offline since October. The dam’s owner, Pacific Corp, now says it no longer makes financial sense to operate the dam. So last month, the city and the district began exploring the possibility of taking it over as a way to preserve Bend’s iconic Mirror Pond.

But Park District Executive Director Don Horton says if a deal does happen, it’s unlikely to come before the summer, when up to a thousand people a day float the Deschutes. He wants Pacific Corp to make those repairs a priority.

“We have time,” Horton says. “We won’t see floaters until June. However, we need to get the hole fixed as soon as we can.”

Pacific Corp spokesman, Bob Gravely says the dam is safe, adding that any deal that would need to take into account the interests of ratepayers.

Source: OPB News

Park district to survey dam

Bend Paddle Trail Alliance pitches alternative plan

By Hillary Borrud | The Bulletin


The Bend City Council, Bend Park & Recreation District board and Mirror Pond ad hoc committee have all expressed a desire to maintain Mirror Pond, a section of the Deschutes River that backs up behind a dam. Officials have mostly discussed preserving the pond by keeping the dam. But the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance wants officials to consider another option to maintain Mirror Pond. At a Mirror Pond ad hoc committee meeting Friday, members of the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance presented a drawing of their vision for the pond to the committee. The proposal includes: 1. A narrower river channel with increased water velocity between Galveston Avenue Bridge and the Drake Park footbridge. There could be zones designed to capture sediment, and this sediment would be removed “every 15 years or so.” 2. A safe passage for fish and boaters between Coyner Point and the location of the current Mirror Pond dam. 3. An alternative dam or flow structure to maintain the water level in Mirror Pond. 4. An extension of the river trail along the east bank, from Drake Park to Pioneer Park 5. A series of rapids and pools, from Coyner Point through the existing dam site 6. Redevelopment of the dam site and other properties in the “currently blighted area between (Bend Brewing Company) and the former park district headquarters,” to help pay for other part of the project.

The Bend Park & Recreation District plans to commission an independent engineering survey of Mirror Pond dam, executive director Don Horton said during a meeting of the Mirror Pond ad hoc committee on Friday.

“Basically, what we’re looking at is an engineer’s analysis of the condition of the dam,” Horton said. This analysis would also include lists of necessary repairs to maintain the dam for the next 15 years and the next 50 years.

The Mirror Pond ad hoc committee also heard from members of the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance, who pitched an alternative to keeping the existing dam. Members of the group said their vision would preserve Mirror Pond while improving the section of the Deschutes River for fish and for boaters.

“I would really implore you to consider other alternatives to just saving or fixing the dam,” said Will Blount of the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance.

David Blair, also a member of the alliance, said the group is “seeking a somewhat more sustainable, somewhat more river-like approach, a somewhat more environmentally oriented approach — but it would retain the pond.”

Tom Carlsen, who lives in a waterfront home on Mirror Pond, said he represents a group called the Save Mirror Pond Committee. Carlsen said his neighbors have already noticed “odor problems” due to the low water level in the pond, and said local governments should repair the existing dam in order to fix the problem as soon as possible.

“It’s innovative, but we’re concerned with the time and cost to implement such a concept,” Carlsen said of the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance plan.

Horton said he hopes to hire an engineering consultant within a month to conduct the survey, and he estimated it will cost approximately $25,000.

Horton and City Councilor Mark Capell are negotiating the possible acquisition of the dam from PacifiCorp, a Northwest utility that operates as Pacific Power in Oregon, which owns the dam.

PacifiCorp discovered a leak in the dam in fall 2013, and after the utility’s chief dam safety engineer inspected the structure, the company announced it no longer made sense to continue operating the hydropower project.

PacifiCorp now plans to decommission the dam or transfer ownership to another entity.

Angela Jacobson Price, regional community manager for Pacific Power, said the company is talking with the park district about granting access to the dam for an independent engineer to conduct the inspection on behalf of the park district.

Price also confirmed that PacifiCorp plans to file an application with the Oregon Water Resources Department to amend its water rights. That would make it possible for a future dam owner to keep the structure without necessarily generating power.

Currently, PacifiCorp has water rights that allow the utility to hold water behind the dam in order to generate power.

Bend Community Development Director Mel Oberst, a member of the ad hoc committee, said the park district should ask the engineer who will survey the dam to include an estimate of the cost to build fish passage on the dam, something Oberst believes the state will require if PacifiCorp transfers ownership and water rights to another entity. But Horton said he believed the state might not require fish passage, so the district does not need to determine right now how much it might cost.

Source: https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/1672547-151/park-district-to-survey-dam