After further negotiations with Governor Brown, she has changed her mind about Newport’s dire need for a new dam on Big Creek. She now favors it. She’s not going to veto the the project.
Earlier, Governor Brown said that although there is a great need for a new Newport dam, other communities need upgrades to their water supply systems too. But a delegation from Newport convinced her that a strong, modern and resilient design should put the Newport facility at the top of the list.
And the Newport delegation prevailed. They won back the $4 million dollar grant to design and engineer the Newport facility on Big Creek.
At the same time, Governor Brown lamented that the state lacks a thorough assessment of hundreds of dams across Oregon, most of which need of comprehensive study and repairs. Governor Brown admitted that Newport’s Big Creek Dams are very old and definitely would not survive a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake which would cut off water to thousands upon thousands of Oregonians that live up, down and around the central coast. With that in mind (among other thoughts) Governor Brown is establishing a state-wide Dam Inspection Task Force to conduct a comprehensive inventory of which dams are okay and which ones are not. Most of them are not.
The task force got it’s first member on Thursday – Dean Sawyer, Mayor of Newport. There will be others chosen to serve including geologic experts, construction engineers and others who will kick-out report cards on just about every major dam in the state.
But again the Governor agreed with the Newport delegation, including one-on-one discussions with State Representative David Gomberg. Rep. Gomberg reminded everyone that when the final design package and engineering plan is in place there will be one last mountain to climb – to acquire the tens of millions of dollars IN FEDERAL GRANTS to actually get it built.
There is a rather long journey still ahead for Newport. But they’ve at least put a lengthening line of tire tracks in their rear view mirror.