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About The Big Creek Dams

What Is The Problem?

Newport’s Water At Risk
Located just Northeast of Newport, OR, the reservoirs from the Lower Big Creek Dam (BCD #1) and the Upper Big Creek Dam (BCD#2), are the sole water supply for the city.
Problem #1:
Earthen Dams On Shaky Ground

Built many decades ago, in 1951 (BCD #1) and 1969 (BCD #2), the Big Creek Dams are Earthen dams constructed of compacted layers of soil, rock and clay. Foundational soil vulnerabilities revealed during inspection indicate these structures are at risk of failure, especially during a seismic event.

Problem #2:
Seepage In The Upper Dam
Leakage found in the Upper Dam’s spillway indicates signs of deficiency and vulnerable structural conditions.

Why Is It A Problem?

Harsh Seismic Realities
Located less than 100 miles off the Pacific coast shoreline, the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) represents a significant threat to the City of Newport.
Two Dams, One Big Problem
The identification of inadequate foundation soils in both dams and leakage in the upper dam, plus a real threat of seismic activity, could lead to insufficient or no water supply.
Newport’s Water Security Rests On Aging Dams

More than 11,000 residents, as well as hundreds of daily commuters and 2.5 million tourists a year, rely on the City of Newport for drinking water. Whether the destination is the bathtub faucet you use to bathe your kids or your favorite craft brewery to create your next pint, Newport is responsible for supplying every drop.

Newport’s Water Supply At Risk

It’s hard to imagine life without a reliable water supply—but our community is at risk today because the dams on the reservoirs that hold Newport’s sole water supply are at risk of failing and may not withstand an earthquake.

Newport’s Dams: Now “Unsafe”
The risk to lives and our economy is so significant that the State Dam Safety Engineer listed Newport’s Big Creek Dams as Unsafe (BCD #2) and Potentially Unsafe (BCD #1).
Act Or Prepare To Ration Water

If we do not act to save our supply, state regulators will require the City to lower the water level behind the dams, resulting in less stored water. We would have to ration water supplies, leading to potential consequences for lives, property, and the local economy.

What Do I Need To Know?

We Have A Solution
Safeguard Newport’s Water

The Big Creek Dam Project will enlarge the upper Big Creek Reservoir and replace both dams with one free of age-related foundational and structural vulnerabilities and built to sustain seismic activity.

Expanding Reservoir Secures Newport’s Water For The Future
Enlarging the reservoir creates storage potential to provide for healthier environmental flows and support Newport’s future water supply needs.
Saving For A Dry Day
Storing more water would help avoid critically-low water levels during peak demand times.
Green Means Go
Oregon water projects are subject to strict environmental laws and regulations and are carefully reviewed before they are permitted. The City continues to spend considerable time and money conducting detailed, thorough investigations to facilitate environmental review.
Committed To The Community

The City works closely with scientists and engineers to balance ecological and community needs. This includes identifying ways to minimize social and environmental impacts, seeking opportunities to enhance natural habitat and reducing reliance on the already stressed Siletz River.

Estimated Timeline

The Big Creek Dam Project is already years in the making and is on track to be completed by 2033. The City is working to secure the funding it needs to save our supply.

Estimated Cost

The Big Creek Dam Project is the City of Newport’s largest infrastructure project, which comes with a cost.

Crunching The Numbers
The City knows that residents and businesses can’t afford to pay for this project alone—Newport needs assistance from our state and federal governments. We anticipate the project will cost about $120 million. To date, we’ve secured $21M, with $35.5M in grants and loans being pursued. This leaves us with about $79M left to raise. An additional $60M in federal funding has been authorized but not yet allocated, meaning the City cannot access these funds and will continue to be at risk until state and federal government processes are completed.

What Do I Need to Do?

Full Steam Ahead

We are on track to deliver the Big Creek Dam Project by 2033. Right now may be the best time to invest in the BCD Project, which stimulates the local economy and provides well-paying jobs to Oregon residents. If the future of our water supply is not addressed, industry, businesses, and residents could experience higher costs in the form of higher water rates and costs to self-supply water.

Our Water, Our Responsibility
Community members and visitors have a role in saving our water supply. As the BCD Project moves forward, we’ll ask for your support to help our state and federal governments understand the need to act now to make this solution affordable for our community.

Have Questions?
We Have Answers.

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