Bend Metro Park and Recreation District Request For Additional Studies


March 11, 1992

Ms. Lois Cashell, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
825 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20425

Bend Hydroelectric Project, FERC N. 2643

Dear Ms. Cashell:

We are filling this letter with respect to the PacificCorp application for relicensing of the Bend Hydro Electric Project, FERC Project #2643, in response to the FERC notice of deadline for submitting additional study requests. We have reviewed the application and found it to be deficient in several areas:

  1. The remarkable values and special importance of Mirror Pond on the Deschutes River to the community of Bend require that a full Environmental Impact Statement, (EIS) accompany the relicensing process. A simple Environmental Assessment (EA) is not adequate to address the potential for impact to this most prominent riverfront site in our urban center.
  2. The application fails to adequately explore the “retirement option” endorsed by a council of public agencies in the Bend area and the National Park Service. The council favors decommissioning the power plant while leaving the dam in place. This option is given only cursory examination in the application, while the extreme action of removing the dam is proposed as a viable alternative.
  3. Adopted community plans and goals as apply to land use, recreational access and aesthetics in the project area have been disregarded. Additional riverfront parks, trail easements, boating access, historical preservation, wetland and fishery enhancement are all elements of those plans that have been given less than satisfactory attention in the application.
  4. The application fails to adequately address fish passage issues raised by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  5. The license application does not identify the input provided by our park district during the early phases of consultation. In particular, we take issue with statements in Exhibit E, Sec., Stage I Consultation and Sec., Stage II Consultation that “No response was received from the Bend Metro Park and Recreation District.” In fact, park district staff were directly involved with the application process from the onset, attending numerous meetings with Pacific Power representatives and facilitating their on-sight visits. We have on file, both written correspondence and notes of numerous conversations with representatives of Pacific Power, as evidence of our participation in both stages of consultation. We also met regularly with a council of public agencies, including the City of Bend, Deschutes County, the Bend Development Board, the Deschutes Basin Resource Committee, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife during the consultation period and helped to formulate the community response to Pacific Power’s proposal.


Ernie Drapela
General Manager

cc: Tom Throop, Deschutes County Commissioner
Dave Leslie, Deschutes County Planning
Jim Bussard, Deschutes River Basin Resource Committee

Document: bmprd-ferc-letter

Future clouded for Mirror Pond dam

Historic powerhouse on Deschutes River in Bend may be shut down after 81 years of use
Historic powerhouse on Deschutes River in Bend may be shut down after 81 years of use

The dam and powerhouse that formed Bend’s Mirror Pond and sent the first electricity surging through the community 81 years ago now faces an uncertain future.

PacifiCorp, owner of the historic facility that sits on the east bank of the Deschutes River near downtown Bend, is seeking a renewal of its federal license for the project.

But some local government officials are urging PacifiCorp to permanently shut down the powerhouse, which provides only a tiny fraction of the electricity used in Central Oregon.

Others see the relicensing application as an opportunity to address for the first time environmental problems—such as heavy sediment buildup in Mirror Pond—that is partially caused by the power plant.

Meanwhile, PacifiCorp even has suggested the possibility of removing the powerhouse and the dam—a move, which is unlikely, that would have a dramatic effect on the appearance of downtown Bend.

It will be months before a final decision is made. But these issues will be discussed Wednesday when PacifiCorp officials come to Bend for an all-day meeting with city, county, park district and other government representatives.

City and county officials plan to press PacifiCorp to make major improvements to the dam, and ask the company to commit to sharing the future costs of removing silt that backs up into Mirror Pond. In 1984, the community spent several hundred thousand dollars to dredge the pond; already, the work is needed again.

Too, those agencies want the utility to reduce the size of its substation, take steps to protect fish from the power turbines and provide public access through the site for a continuation of the Deschutes River Trail.

“We see this as a great opportunity,” said Deschutes County Commissioner Tom Throop. “This power project has had far-reaching effects on Bend, and we’ve never been in a position before to influence its operation.”

The Bend Metro Park and Recreation District, meanwhile, has joined the National Park Service in requesting that PacifiCorp retire the powerhouse. The Park Service is required by law to review federal dam relicensing applications.

Ernio Drapela, park district director, said he favors shutting down the powerhouse but preserving the historic brick building and the dam.

Shutting down the powerhouse, which illuminated a total of 375 light bulbs when the turbines began spinning in 1910, would have little effect on Bend today.

The powerhouse now produces less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the electricity deliverer by Pacific Power to customers in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties.

Source: The Bulletin ©1991

Mirror Pond Rehabilitation Meeting 1-15-1981

Subject: Mirror Pond Rehabilitation
Date: Jan. 15, 1981
Location: Clark & Joyce, Inc.

Participants: Harold Baughman – PP & L
Ted Fies – Fish and Wildlife
Tom Gellner – City Engineer
John Hassick – City Planner
Vince Genna – Bend Park & Rec. Dist.
Richard Dornhelm – Winzler & Kelly
Maury Clark – Clark & Joyce, Inc.
John Joyce – Clark & Joyce, Inc.

The purpose of the meeting was to review the initial steps of the study for the Mirror Pond Rehabilitation proj­ect, which is being performed by Winzler & Kelly/ Clark & Joyce, Inc. It also provided an opportunity for the rep­ resented agencies/firms to give information to the engineers regarding concerns and restrictions that have to be addressed in the study.

John Joyce recommended that a citizens advisory committee be formed to provide additional local input into the study. The committee should not include technical representatives of agencies/firms, because they will be routinely included in the review process. Vince Genna suggested the Park District Board appoint 2 members and the City of Bend appoint 3 members. The committee size was agreed to, and Tom Gellner and Vince Genna will ask the City and Park District to appoint these members.

John Hassick suggested the need to coordinate with the irrigation districts because of the concern they may have on water flows and turbidity. The irrigation districts have about one domestic run a month during the winter. The run may last a few days, and turbidity would be a con­cern if the pond water level had been lower just prior to the run. Harold Baughman stated that during the irrigation season the water level can’t be lowered sigficantly, because the river flow is greater than the dam by-pass capacity. If an adequate diversion at the dam is achieved PP&L will consider lowering the water level for a definite time.

The sediment samples previously analyzed don’t show the location of the samples. Tom Gellner will check to determine if the locations were recorded.

Vince Genna advised that the Batell Institute has conducted a study on types of plants in the Deschutes River.

This study should be available from the Forest Service. According to Ted Fies, most of the plants are the same as those in reservoirs. John Joyce will check with Central Oregon Community College to determine if they have analyzed plant life in Mirror Pond. If COCC provides future analysis and services on this project, the cost may be included in the local share for the project.

Vince Genna has photographs taken from the air that show the sediment buildup in parts of Mirror Pond. These photos. are available for the engineer’s use and review.

The siltation process is going to continue because of the severe bank erosion upstream, according to Ted Fies. The high volume and changing levels of the river, caused by irrigation flows, result in severe bank erosion. There have been studies performed on this problem, and they are available at the Forest Service office. Tod pointed out that turbidity will be of greatest concern from October through March, because of down stream spawning. Mirror Pond is not considered significant as a spawning area, rather it is a rearing area. There will probably be some advantages as a fish habitat if the capacity of the pond is increased by removal of some of the sediment.

Adding islands with trees may present additional problems, because of the view restrictions. The Park District won’t encourage  use of Mirror Pond for “in-water recreation.” Boating and canoeing will be encouraged when the water depth is increased. There should be a boat ramp provided for those activities. Harold Baughman recommended the ramp be located at a point whore the river is least apt to freeze, because there has been a need to rescue people from the thin ice on occasion.

Tho ice problem at Tumalo Bridge area was discussed. Ice forms .on tho bottom of the river (anchor ice), builds up and then breaks loose. This phenomenon has resulted in an ice jam at the bridge. Harold stated that they will open the by-pass gate at the dam to increase the velocity at the bridge, if they are aware of the problem soon enough. It is anticipated that the higher velocity will reduce the possibility of an ice jam. This problem should be considered if there are proposed changes to Mirror Pond as a result of the rehabilitation.

The City of Bend wip provide tho following data and information:

  1. Two copies of Mirror Pond X-Sections.
  2. Location of samples and basis for analysis.
  3. Data relative to types of plants, if available.
  4. Names of Citizens Advisory Committee.
  5. Copy of Storm drain maps.

Notes of Meeting by: John Joyce


Rock Facing Built At Pageant Park

Taking advantage of low water in the Deschutes, result of draining of the Mirror pond, a city crew today was engaged in the preliminary improvement of Pageant park, facing the Deschutes from the west side of the river adjacent to Drake park footbridge approach. A rock wall has been constructed at the river edge, and low places in the new park were being filled. Willows on the river edge have been cut down.

Home owners whose lawns front on the Mirror pond from the west side are also taking advantage of the low water to repair and clean water fronts.

From city officers today came the complaint that some children are damaging the Drake park waterfront rock facing, by removing rocks. Some of these rocks are apparently being carried to the footbridge, to be dropped Into the river. Others are being pushed into tho mud.

Source: Bend Bulletin ©1941