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Lookout Point Reservoir begins filling next week

By FERGUS MCLEAN/for The Herald  —  US Army Corps of Engineers will begin filling Lookout Reservoir December 15, according to Corps fish biologist Greg Taylor.

Under a recent federal injunction, the Corps is required to draw the reservoir’s level down to historic low levels in the Fall to reduce stress to baby salmon moving downstream. The practice of “Deep Drawdowns” has been in use in nearby Fall Creek Reservoir for several years and has produced levels of returning Chinook salmon to full historic stocking levels.

The success of the Fall Creek drawdowns has led to similar practices in other Willamette Valley reservoirs, including Lookout Point.

Lookout Point Reservoir has already risen significantly over the last week, as the federal injunction allows the Corps to pause the drawdown under conditions of flood risk. The reservoir will continue rising from the drawdown low target of 824’ elevation until the reservoir water level reaches 887’.  At that point, likely in late March to early April, the “Spring Spill” will allow water to pass the dam for a 30-day period, to help the baby salmon smolts move downstream.

The reservoir level will continue to rise- weather permitting- until sometime in mid-to-late summer, when next fall’s early drawdown will begin. The “Deep Drawdown” begins again around mid-November 2024.

The injunction requires the Corps to issue reports in February and August on the successes and problems with the drawdowns which monitor many factors, including success of fish passage, impacts on water quality, and other impacts from the river carving out a new channel in 50-year-old sediment trapped behind the dam.

City of Lowell Public Works Director Max Baker reports that Lowell’s water treatment plant has overcome turbidity problems, and that the city’s drinking water quality is excellent.

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