Over two days last week, Eugene Water and Electric Board took a slow approach to the draw down of Leaburg Lake. The hope is to help save the lives of an eel-like fish that’s important to northwest Indian tribes.
Thousands of juvenile lamprey burrow in the silt behind the Leaburg Dam on the McKenzie River. The utility draws down the water periodically to remove silt for fish passage. EWEB’s Lisa McLaughlin says when that draw down is done quickly.
“The lamprey don’t have time to figure out what’s going on and move out of the silt and into the river in a timely fashion so that they can survive.”
McLaughlin says in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Oregon and the Grande Rhonde tribe, EWEB came up with the idea of doing a slow draw down.
“At a rate of 1.8 inches per hour. And the hypothesis was that that would be enough time for the juvenile lamprey to recognize what was going on and move out on their own. Follow the water down and be able to stay in the river.”
McLaughlin says Fish & Wildlife is analyzing data from the study but it seemed to be effective.