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Utility Works To Keep Wildfire Waste Out of McKenzie River

Joe Harwood

Eugene Water & Electric Board is working to keep wildfire debris out of the McKenzie River before the rainy season begins. The utility is offering help to landowners affected by the Holiday Farm Fire.

 EWEB’s Joe Harwood said it’s a community wide effort with participation from Lane County and local non-profits to move hazardous material away from the river.

“Right now the contractor is essentially pulling debris out of the river and off the river bank and staging it on each respective property above the high water mark.” Harwood said. “It’s work that we want to get done before the big rains come.”

EWEB has identified more than 100 river-adjacent properties of concern. Harwood said most they’ve contacted have welcomed the help.

“The whole idea is to keep what we can out of the river and you know we’ll come back down the road and look at long term erosion control measures including replanting and that sort of thing.” Harwood said.

EWEB has filtration systems at its Hayden Bridge Plant to remove impurities resulting from wildfire debris Harwood added. But he said it’s better to keep the source as pristine as possible. The McKenzie River is Eugene’s main source of drinking water. The utility is also offering free assessments to anyone along the McKenzie affected by the fire. 

EWEB is a KLCC underwriter.

Copyright 2020 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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