Out of Oregon’s list of unsafe dams, 2 of the 7 are in Newport. The Lower and Upper dams on the Big Creek Reservoir are deemed unsatisfactory by the state.
This means that in the case of a major earthquake, they would likely fail. Tim Gross is Director of Public Works with the City of Newport. He says Newport has been working for years with the State Water Resources Department to come up with a plan to replace the dams. Gross says there are about a dozen homes downstream from the Lower Dam.
“Obviously, a big concern is the impact to life and safety of the people downstream.” Gross says, “But also, if we lost these structures, we wouldn’t be able to provide a water supply to our community for several years and really that’s not satisfactory. We have to have a resilient water supply.”
Paying for a new dam on the Big Creek Reservoir is a big challenge. Gross estimates it would cost upwards of 50 million dollars.