Four possible solutions for fish passage through the Newport Dam that forms Mirror Pond received public input Monday.
A fish ladder, a more “nature-like” fish passage and two variations of rock ramps were presented.
“I thought the consultant for the city did an excellent job of presenting four alternatives for fish passage, with the exception that I was expecting to see a number five in which removal of the entire dam was considered,” hydrologist for Max Depth Aquatics Joseph Eilers said.
RELATED: Changes to Mirror Pond depend on the future of Newport Dam
RELATED: Mirror Pond water levels reduced by 2 feet
The ultimate fate of the dam rests entirely in the hands of its owners, Pacific Power. Some questioned the utility company’s commitment to maintaining the dam. If Pacific Power backs out of ownership, the dam could be removed entirely.
“PacificCorp could walk away from this in a minute, and what I suspect is holding back that discussion is the sediment that’s in Mirror Pond and who would have to pay for the removal of that if the dam goes,” Eilers said during the Q and A session of the meeting.
Dr. Jerry Freilich, a now-retired career man with the National Parks Service, says he hopes those working on fish passage are careful before investing money into something where the dam going away could change the scenario.
“People from PacificCorp in this meeting today said ‘Oh yes, we’re putting in all this work. We’re invested in it.’ Well that’s fine for them to say that, but there’s no legal reason why they have to. They can change their mind tomorrow,” Freilich said.
Matt Chancellor with Pacific Power, which is owned by PacificCorp, says the company has no plans in giving up ownership of the dam.
“Today we have no plans of divesting the Newport Avenue Hydro Facility. It’s a carbon-free facility so that’s a big plus for our community,” Chancellor said.
A follow-up meeting has not yet been scheduled, but one is expected to be held within the next four weeks.