By Sean Morgan
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials are anticipating an average summer managing Foster and Green Peter reservoirs as it prepares to begin repairs on three gates in Foster Dam toward the end of the recreation season.
Corps officials announced last week that they have awarded a contract and will begin repairs of the last three spillway gates at Foster Dam in September.
The Portland District has awarded a $3.2 million contract to Knight Construction of Deer Park, Wash., to repair the three remaining damaged spillway gates at Foster Dam. The contract includes the mandatory $1.14 million repair of Gate 3 plus $2.02 million in optional work to repair of Gates 2 and 4.
"We expect to start repairs to Gate 3 after Labor Day weekend and continue for several months,” said Mark Dasso, the District’s project manager for the gate repairs. "Unlike the earlier repairs to Gate 1, though, we do not anticipate lowering Foster Lake or reducing the dam’s flood storage capacity below normal levels, so impacts to lake users and downstream residents should be minimal.”
Public Affairs Specialist Amy Echols projected completion of all three gates sometime around March.
The repairs, however, will again require the extended closure of Foster Dam Road, preventing access to North River Road from Highway 20.
"We know that closing Foster Dam Road will be an inconvenience to local area residents,” said Dustin Bengtson, operations project manager for the District’s 13 Willamette Valley dams. "But these repairs will ensure that Foster Dam is fully capable of providing flood damage reduction, recreation and hydropower benefits to the local community and the entire Willamette Valley.”
The Corps will provide more specific details about road closures as they become available, Echols said.
Routine inspections of Foster Dam conducted by District dam safety engineers last summer revealed that two of the dam’s four spillway gates might not open properly if called upon to release water from behind the dam. The reservoir was lowered in July to permit more detailed inspections, which found that all four gates had some level of damage, including visible twisting or bending of the steel frame and supports.
The gates are used at various times during the year, but are critical to the safe release of water during and after storm events.
Knight Construction repaired Gate 1, the northernmost, last fall and winter, and has been repairing stop logs – steel barriers that divert water around dam construction and repair sites, blocking the spillway – this spring in preparation for the upcoming repairs to the other gates. Fabrication Products of Vancouver, Wash., also has been fabricating new stop logs.
In the meantime, the Corps is expecting an average recreation season in terms of water levels.
"Everything should be good for summer recreation,” Echols said. "Water levels are looking really good.”
Late May rain is to thank for filling Green Peter, she said. Both lakes are full right now. The level at Green Peter will decrease as the Corps releases water to keep flows up in the main stem of the Willamette River for fish.
The Corps of Engineers is wrapping up its environmental assessment on the proposed Edgewater Marina.
Findings should be complete in a couple of weeks, according to Scott Clemans, public affairs specialist with the Corps. The Corps also is finalizing details with the developer, Foster Lake Investments, which has constructed several townhouses and an RV park on the shore of Foster Lake.
"We’re anticipating we should have finalized most of the environmental clearances in the next few weeks, late June,” he said.
Concurrently, the Corps also is finalizing details of the lease agreement with Foster Lake Investments, he said, and the developer also needs to work through state level environmental clearances before beginning construction.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates Foster Dam and Reservoir as part of a system of 13 multi-purpose dams and reservoirs that work together for flood damage reduction, hydropower generation, irrigation, recreation, fish and wildlife enhancement, and downstream water quality improvement within the Willamette River drainage system.
For more information about the Willamette Valley Project, visit www.nwp.usace.army.mil/op/v/home.asp.