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

 

Editorial: PacifiCorp does what is right

PacifiCorp has now demonstrated a gift for doing what’s right on Mirror Pond. It just needs to demonstrate a few more gifts.

The company announced Tuesday that it would fix one of the leaks in the dam.

The leak helped make the pond look and smell about as pleasant as inhaling a noseful of skunk.

There was the potential that lower water levels would continue right through the summer. Boating and paddling could be curtailed. Floating wouldn’t be much fun. Swimming would be reserved for people with short arms. And for accuracy’s sake, the pond’s name should be switched to Muddy Pond.

In December, PacifiCorp said the dam would not be repaired, because it was not cost effective for the amount of power it produced. The tune has changed. Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources, says it fully understands the community’s concern about the potential for low water levels during summer recreation months.

“It’s possible Mirror Pond would have remained full this summer without this fix, but in our view this is the right action to take at this time,” Tallman said.

It will enable PacifiCorp to restore hydro generation. PacifiCorp also says it should help negotiations with the Bend community to determine if keeping the dam intact is a better option than removal. The cost of the repair is estimated at $250,000.

With that issue seemingly resolved, the Mirror Pond committee is working on getting the community better information so it can make a good decision. The public really needs to know how much it would cost to remove the dam and do any mitigation and how much it would cost to continue to operate the dam and keep the silt buildup under control.

We support keeping the pond, but that does depend on what it would cost.

Now that PacifiCorp has taken this right step, what will it do next?

PacifiCorp’s new release about fixing the dam acknowledges it may have some interests that are not the same as the community’s.

“The company is very committed to trying to find the best possible outcome regarding this facility that balances the community’s priorities for Mirror Pond and our regulatory obligations,” it says. And it goes on to add that “we are hopeful an agreement can be reached that allows this to happen and also protects the interest of our rate-paying customers in Bend and throughout our six-state service area.”

We hope that is true, too.

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.

Mirror Pond Dam Repair Planned for April

BEND, Ore. – PacifiCorp will reinforce a section of the company’s dam in downtown Bend to address a leak in one of the structure’s wooden panels that developed in October of 2013. The installation of steel sheet pile upstream of a leaking panel is planned to begin in April.

The company stopped generating power at the dam following the leak, and announced in November that it is not cost-effective to rebuild the entire facility to generate power for current and future generations of customers across its six-state territory. PacifiCorp has since been in formal discussions with Bend Parks and Recreation and the City of Bend regarding a potential transfer of the dam to a local entity for the purpose of maintaining the Mirror Pond impoundment.

“Though the dam remains safe, we fully understand the community’s concern about the potential for low water levels during summer recreation months,” said Mark Tallman, PacifiCorp’s vice president for renewable resources. “It’s possible Mirror Pond would have remained full this summer without this fix, but in our view this is the right action to take at this time.” Tallman said. “This reinforcement is also anticipated to restore hydro generation for the year, and should provide the community with more certainty about the structure and Mirror Pond during the summer season and going forward.”

The company used the sheet pile technique previously to address similar leaks in other wooden panels, known as bays. The work involves driving long pieces of interlocking steel sheets into the river bed to create steel facing on the upstream side of the leaking panel.

“This action will also facilitate further discussions with community leaders to determine if an agreement can be reached that enables PacifiCorp to clearly demonstrate that placing the dam under local control is better for all our customers than dam removal or other alternatives,” Tallman said.

“The company is very committed to trying to find the best possible outcome regarding this facility that balances the community’s priorities for Mirror Pond and our regulatory obligations” said Scott Bolton, PacifiCorp’s vice president for community and government relations. “That includes taking steps like this reinforcement as part of our community commitment, and our support of efforts by community leaders to preserve Mirror Pond’s future.” Bolton added, “We are hopeful an agreement can be reached that allows this to happen and also protects the interest of our rate-paying customers in Bend and throughout our six-state service area.”

Mirror Pond will be back

Mirror Pond will make its return before the start of spring despite the leak in the dam that creates Bend’s iconic lake.

Considering the current dry weather and taking in account the current water levels at the Wickiup Reservoir, the Oregon Water Resource Department is expecting Wickiup to be full around March 10-20. This could change by a few weeks if the weather changes.

Local Watermaster Jeremy Giffin said he will likely open Wickiup around the first or second week of March to where the outflow of water equals the inflow (from the current 36 cubic feet/second up to around 600 CFS). This will increase the flow through Mirror Pond from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS. It is estimated that the pond should fill and spill over the dam at around 600 CFS.

Giffin said that he will be releasing roughly the same amount of water this summer as in years past. “For the peak part of the summer (June through August) the flow through Mirror Pond should range between 1300 and 1600 CFS, again depending on the type of weather we are having and the type of crops in North Unit Irrigation District,” he added.

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In March, the flow through Mirror Pond will increase from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS.
In March, the flow through Mirror Pond will increase from around 450 CFS to over 1000 CFS.