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By Joyce Edlefsen
Standard Journal

PacifiCorp officials have agreed to participate in a Henry’s Fork Foundation meeting on the operation and repair and maintenance of the Ashton Dam.

The meeting will be held from 7 to 8:30 pm Tuesday at the Ashton Community Center.

The dam has undergone considerable evaluation in recent years and results of this work will be presented at the meeting.

PacifiCorp staff will present information about how the Ashton Dam is operated and PacifiCorp’s options for repair and maintenance of the dam in the near future.

Mark Stenberg of PacifiCorp says the agenda for the discussion will include a summary of our continuing investigation of the construction and condition of the Ashton Dam. The lead engineer is at a board of consultants meeting this week where they will hopefully come away with a preferred alternative for repair and maintenance of the structure that could be undertaken in the next 12 to 24 months, he says.

The company will be reviewing that this coming week.

Stenberg says besides the foundation event Tuesday night, the company will have the same discussion with the Fremont County Commission earlier in the day.

"And we’ll hopefully meet with the farmers who pump water from the Ashton Reservoir so we can discuss coordination around our preferred alternative,” Stenberg says in an e-mail in response to questions about the agenda.

There will be ample time for questions and discussion following the company’s presentation Tuesday night, according to Kim Ragotzskie, the foundation’s stewardship director.

The meeting will be of interest to irrigators and recreational users of the river, both anglers and Ashton Reservoir boaters, she says. This meeting is part of the Foundation’s ongoing Stewardship Series.

These community meetings cover a variety of natural resource conservation topics of interest to area residents and visitors. For more information contact Kim Ragotzkie at the Henry’s Fork Foundation, 652-3567.

In 2006 PacifiCorp Energy retained a board of consultants to review the original design and construction of the Ashton dam in response to a request from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The consultants were to help determine the best course of action for any maintenance work needed at the dam on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River about three miles west of Ashton,

At the time the consultants were hired, Dave Eskelsen of the power company said there was "no eminent risk of dam failure.”

“But when you are dealing with a dam this old, there’s a need to be prudent,” he said.

Timeline 1914 – Original Ashton Dam and power plant built (With subsequent upgrades) 1991 – Concrete erosion protection cap added to top of dam 2004 – The need to pursue a more detailed evaluation, of the dam’s condition was identified in spring 2004 as the utility was planning maintenance work on the 1991 concrete erosion protection cap on the dam. 2004 – In October the reservoir was lowered for grout repair between older and newer concrete work on the top of the dam. 2004 – PacifiCorp Energy begins working with the federal Energy Regulatory commission and the Idaho state engineer to investigate structural conditions and to determine the need and scope of maintenance work at the dam. 2006 – PacifiCorp announces that, at the request of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it will hire a group of consultants to review the original design and construction of the Ashton dam. 2008 – Monitoring equipment is installed at the dam 2004 to 2009 – Water levels in the reservoir remain at various levels below capacity as reviews continue 2009 – Twice the company lowers levels at the reservoir with short notice to the public and irrigators 2009 – Meeting set in Ashton Tuesday with PacifiCorp officials to talk about the operations and future maintenance at the dam

Standard Journal
Rexburg, ID
September 24, 2009

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