Silt problems start farther upriver

I find it interesting that no one seems to address the real concern regarding silt and sediment problems in the Deschutes River.

What about the North Unit Irrigation District and all the related irrigators that seem to continually create stream flow variables that constantly churn up sediment and debris, causing harm to riparian habitats and fish-spawning beds?

Shouldn’t these irrigators be financially responsible and accountable for the river damage their releases and discharges create?

This is not just a problem for Mirror Pond, but their annual irrigation actions affect the whole Deschutes River system. I live upriver from Sunriver (20-plus miles from downtown Bend) and I can recall river water level changes of several feet in just a matter of a day or two, creating turbid murky water conditions downriver until the flow stabilizes — which I assume sends suspended debris particles all the way to Bend.

My section of the river is experiencing major sediment buildup also.

Again, address the source of the problems and have all stakeholders liable for solutions, including North Unit Irrigation District’s and Wickiup Reservoir’s impoundment in your financial solutions.

Duane Wyman

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Offer a prize for an idea for Mirror Pond

I have been following the progress of Mirror Pond and the process of a decision as to how to solve the problem of removing the silt as economically as possible and not breaking the city.

It seems like a really tough problem. Still, there must be an answer somewhere.

There must be a really smart person that has the answer. Perhaps if the power in control would make an offer of, say, $50,000 or so — a prize to the winner of the idea to come forward? There is an old saying, “You usually get what you pay for.”

Gary Robertson

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

OBNA Open Board Meeting


Location of tonight’s meeting has been changed to the Old Library which is now the Admin Building on Wall Street south of the Library.

Do you have questions about the Mirror Pond sedimentation process?

Jim Figurski, the Mirror Pond Project Manager will be at the meeting to give an update and answer questions.

This is an open forum for neighbors to chat with each other, and the board, about happening and/or concerns in your neighborhood.

Location: Old Library Building, south of the Library
Day/time: Monday, March 25th @ 6:00pm

Let us know you’re coming.


Become an Old Bend Neighbor: OBNA Membership Application

Remove the dam and let the river run

Remove the Deschutes River dam.

Dredge Mirror Pond.

Geez! People of Bend, look at the bigger picture for a change. Dams are now unpopular and yet, here in Bend, we have the old-fashioned people, living in the past.

When we remove the dam in Bend, we will make the cover of Time magazine, be written about in The New York Times and on and on. People will flock to Bend to see a river run through it instead of what we have now. The small limited picture is to leave things alone. Well, the bigger picture is to remove dams, for a flow of river water and all of the amenities that come with that. The Bend Park & Recreation District could redo Drake Park and use some of that money from the bond issue. Yes, remodel the old-fashioned Drake Park, what a novel idea. And to Millie Nolan’s letter from March 17, I say, “A river runs, it just runs.”

One doesn’t dredge a river, one watches it flow. We are Bend recreationists, so the brochures say. So let’s be “outdoorsy” and remove an old dam — for free-flowing water, traveling downstream from up in the Cascades.

Tom Filcich

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

How much power does the Mirror Pond dam generate?

bend-plantIn 2011, the Bend Hydro project generated 2,115 MWh or 2,115,000 KWh of electricity; that is almost enough power for 178 homes.* If Pacific Power had to purchase these 2,115,000 KWhs, the replacement cost is estimated to be around $77,000.

*In 2011, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,280 kWh, an average of 940 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Oregon had an annual consumption of 11,892 kWh, an average of 991 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month.

How much electricity does an American home use?

Idea for Mirror Pond

Pacific Power owns the dam that creates a small but profitable return of energy for this facility. The dam is also the cause of the Mirror Pond build-up. The cost to remove the dam and restore its construction area would be significant to Pacific Power. Why not leave things as they are and Pacific Power pays the cost of dredging the river every 10 or 15 years as the silt builds up.

Harold Anderson

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

How much water is flowing through Mirror Pond?


The flow of the Deschutes River through Mirror Pond depends highly on the type of winter we are having. During dry years the winter flow through Mirror Pond is around 450 CFS and during wet years (when the Watermaster is passing live flow out of the upper basin reservoirs) it can be as high as 1600 CFS. In the summer it ranges from 1400-1600 CFS, depending upon irrigation demand.

Preserve Mirror Pond

Thank you for printing the view of Cary Robles in the Feb. 26 paper. I am in total agreement about Mirror Pond. I worry that a huge mistake will be made by removing the dam. What will Bend be without our beautiful river and Mirror Pond? Someday there would be a plea to build a dam again so Bend would have another beautiful pond. Bend residents should at least have the chance to vote on the decision.

Not all of us want a mud flat at Drake Park, natural or not. We should take care of this treasure that Bend has and keep it up by more frequent dredging. Thank you again.

Millie Nolan

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Mirror Pond options in the works

Members of the Mirror Pond Management Board got a preview Wednesday of the next phase in the effort to find a solution for the silt accumulating in Mirror Pond.

Wednesday’s meeting came on the heels of a questionnaire examining what local residents believe to be important in terms of Mirror Pond’s future.

Nearly 1,900 people answered the questionnaire.

It did not ask participants what they would like done to address siltation, but the survey exposed a split between those who would like to see the pond remain a pond and those who would prefer a free-flowing river by removing the Newport Avenue dam.

Jim Figurski, a consultant hired through the Bend Park & Recreation District to oversee the project, told management board members the process of preparing four designs depicting what Mirror Pond could look like in the future is under way.

Board members should expect a first look at the four alternatives in mid-May, Figurski said, with the public weighing in on the possibilities — including projected short-term and long-term costs — by mid-June.

Demonstrating a prototype of the online questionnaire he expects to use during the next round of community input, Figurski pulled up an image of present-day Mirror Pond on a screen. He said the questionnaire program he intends to use will allow respondents to highlight those elements they like or dislike in illustrations that will be created to represent the four alternatives, allowing them to “vote” up or down on things like a sandy beach, a pier or aquatic vegetation.

Figurski said he thinks it’s likely those who participate in the process this summer will find things they like about several of the alternatives.

“I’m optimistic. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by what we’re able to achieve with each of the alternatives,” he said.

Board member Ryan Houston said he was concerned the four alternatives — currently labeled as “do nothing,” “habitat focus,” “river focus” and “recreation focus” — would present questionnaire participants with false choices. The park district has done a good job of developing riverfront properties that provide a benefit to river health and recreational users, he said, and the district’s record should be considered as the alternatives are being created.

Spencer Dahl, board member and chairman of the Old Bend Neighborhood Association, asked fellow board member Angela Price of Pacific Power if it would be possible to open the sluice gates of the Newport Avenue dam so locals could see how the river might respond if the dam were removed. Board member Peter Werner asked Price if the utility would agree to remove the dam if a community consensus for doing so emerged, and if so, how long it would take.

Price said she was unable to answer either question.

City Councilor and board member Victor Chudowsky encouraged Figurski and others working to develop the four alternatives to remember that any changes to Mirror Pond would likely affect the river upstream, possibly as far as the Colorado Avenue dam.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

Pacific Power Says Dam is “Not Very” Important to Company

Yesterday's MPMB powwow. Photo by James Williams
Yesterday’s MPMB powwow. Photo by James Williams

During Wednesday’s Mirror Pond Management Board meeting Pacific Power rep. Angela Jacobson Price was asked “how important is the dam to your company?”
“Not very,” she said. Price went on to call the Newport Avenue dam, the 100-year-old structure which impounds the Deschutes River at Drake Park, “a small asset” and said it provides power for less than 1,000 homes. Although she declined to elaborate further on what that might mean for the community and the future of the dam, Price did say that altering the dam was in Pacific Power’s “10 year plan.”

It still seems as if the utility company is very much open to relinquishing control of the dam. Price asked “What does the community want us to do?” Ryan Houston, MPMB member and executive director of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council asked Price if the community says, “keep the dam,” would you sell it to the Parks District? Again, Price declined to comment.

Other items of note from Wednesday’s meeting of the MPMB, the non-decision making arm of the Deschutes River siltation project (the Mirror Pond Steering Committee is the oversight group than makes the calls—the management board is a citizen advisory committee):

– “The dam’s not going to be there forever,” explained project manager Jim Figurski. This prompted Houston to ask, how, then can the steering committee draft a comprehensive plan without first deciding what to do about the dam? “It’s a physics problem—the river acts differently with and without a dam in place,” he said. You can’t have a design/management plan that works for both scenarios. “There are ways to do this,” Figurski said.

– Ownership of the land beneath the water remains an issue, though Bill Smith said its primary owner, the McKay family, “wants to be good community citizens,” and cooperate. But, the McKay’s and other potential owners are fearful of liability should environmental tests reveal something toxic in the soil or water. Houston said risk of such danger is low.

– Figurski revealed sample questions to be used during the next phase of community outreach—the visioning phase. Management board members urged the project manager to “make it simpler.”

– Todd Heisler, executive director of the Deschutes River Conservancy, proposed that visioning graphics and alternatives include cost/benefit information “early in the process” to ensure that the community knows what its getting into.

– There are four alternatives for the river going forward, but they are only loosely defined as of yet. The only two that really exist are the bookends—”a do nothing” strategy and “remove the dam.” The middle two strategies will be, in part, formed by public input. The visioning process (what the committee is working on now—March through June) should reveal potential solutions with the idea being that the preferred alternative would be chosen by July or August.

The community will be involved in both of the final two phases, Figurski said. The project’s website is

Source: The Source Weekly ©2013