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Committee To Discuss Mirror Pond Fish Passage

BEND, OR -- The Mirror Pond Advisory Committee meets Thursday to discuss plans for a fish passage project at the Newport Dam. Consultant and committee facilitator Vernita Ediger says engineers came up with three passage design options, "A traditional fish ladder, a nature-like fish byway - which is more of a channel around the dam, and I think it’s called a ruffage channel - where it’s kind of more of a rocky area that’s built up toward the dam."

Now the committee needs to finalize the criteria for deciding which one is best. "Of course, effectively passing fish up and downstream and meeting state requirements for doing so is one of those things," Ediger tells KBND News, "Cost and fiscal responsibility is another concern. Thinking about public safety and making sure that any structure that’s put in place doesn’t create risk to the public." And, she says, it must be workable by all partners, including PacificCorp, who owns the hydro-electric dam. "This is where everything gets real," she says, "It’s really easy, when everything is conceptual, to agree. But, as soon as we start talking about nuts and bolts and pros and cons, things start to get pretty real. I’m really hopeful that we’ll have a really good decision matrix."

A public open house is planned for January, where the committee will answer questions about the design options and how they'll make a decision. The goal is to present a recommended passage design to the city and Bend Parks and Rec by late January or early February. But that’s where the timeline gets vague. Ediger says there are still a lot of questions around when or even if to build a fish passage in Mirror Pond, including who will own and manage the structure? "Then you need to also think through the liability and who’s taking that on."

Thursday's virtual committee meeting starts at 10 a.m. Click HERE for more information.

Image of the Newport Dam courtesy of Deschutes River Conservancy

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