It is hard to imagine what life would be like without a reliable water supply — but the City of Newport is at risk today because the dams on the reservoirs that hold our city’s water supply may not withstand even a minor earthquake.
Newport is the heart of the central Oregon Coast, attracting 2.5 million visitors annually as they take in the scenery, view wildlife and participate in recreational and cultural activities. The city is home to 10,000 year-round residents, and several prominent employers—fishing and tourism being the chief economic drivers.
Newport is a vital regional hub to the smaller communities around it. The city serves as a jobs center for many who live in the surrounding towns. The city’s network expands well beyond its municipal borders.
Like a few other coastal cities in the Pacific Northwest, portions of Newport’s water supply infrastructure are seismically deficient and will not withstand an earthquake. Chief among these concerns are the two Big Creek Dams on the Big Creek Reservoirs that contain the city’s sole water supply.
The Big Creek Dams Project will enlarge the upper Big Creek Reservoir and replace that dam with one that will sustain seismic activity and lower the water behind the lower dam, so it is no longer a hazard.