The Newport City Council Monday night will begin grappling with the fact that both city water reservoirs up Big Creek will crumble and come tumbling down when the next big Cascadia earthquake hits the coast.
An engineering report will outline the bad news in great detail but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The report identifies a spot just downstream from the upper dam that would work well as the site of a completely new dam – one that would very likely survive a big earthquake and still provide the area with water following a seismic event.
Additionally, the new dam, by virtue of being constructed immediately downstream, could be built without interrupting delivery of upper dam water to the water filtration plant. After the new dam is built, the old one would be decommissioned.
The state has declared both Newport dams to be among the worst in the state. As a result, funding assistance via grants is likely to help cover a major portion of the cost of constructing the new dam.
The council will be asked to approve further design of the new dam while parallel efforts scan the horizon for state and/or federal grants to fund it.