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Newport Dams Evaluated In New Seismic Report


The Newport City Council met Monday to discuss a seismic evaluation study of the two Big Creek dams. Several recommendations were made in the report and the city will select the best option for upgrading the structures. KLCC’s Corinne Boyer has more.

The two Big Creek Dams, which are part of the local water supply, are operated by the city of Newport. In 2007, the city discovered stability issues with the soil surrounding the dams in the event of an earthquake. That’s according to City Manager Spencer Nebel. He says residents below the lower dam would have to evacuate immediately.

Nebel: “The way the existing dams would fail would be the dams actually settling down and then water coming over the top. But as that water comes over the top of an earthen dam, it’s going to continue eroding the dam away. But it does give you some time to get people out of the immediate area.”

The report commissioned by the city suggests new upgrades like tearing down the lower dam and constructing a new, larger upper dam. Nebel says the process of approving, selecting and updating the existing structures will take several years.